Local mayor embroiled in controversy in new lawsuit

KSLA Investigates|Clarence mayor faces lawusit from DA

CLARENCE, LA (KSLA) - Nestled in Natchitoches Parish, near the intersection of Highways 84 and 71, you’ll find Clarence.

A quaint village of about 500 people. But, according to residents, this sleepy village has a big problem: Tommy Evans, the mayor.

“This is my home, but, right now with the mayor we’ve got, I wish I could pick up and move it,” said a Clarence resident who would only speak to KSLA under the condition of anonymity.

Some residents accuse Evans, who’s been in office since 2016, of being arrogant, disrespectful and unwilling to listen to their concerns.

“He needs to sit down and talk with us about what’s going on,” said Irma Anthony, a Clarence alderwoman.

“He doesn’t want to listen and he doesn’t want help,” said another anonymous resident.

Residents allege the village’s turmoil has come to an impasse, and as a result, few public monthly meetings have been held, which is a violation of state law.

“He really doesn’t know how to run our town,” said an anonymous resident.

In response, Billy Joe Harrington, district attorney for Natchitoches Parish, filed a lawsuit against Evans on October 25.

Harrington declined to comment on the pending litigation.

In the suit, Natchitoches Parish’s top prosecutor accuses Evans of not holding a public meeting since August, and according to state law, Clarence must “hold at least one open meeting per month...and notify residents of the date, time, place and agenda.”

“He won’t sit down and talk to us,” said an anonymous resident.

'We need our town back," said another.

Citizens of Clarence describe the rare public meetings as being very contentious, disorganized and uncivil.

“It’s chaos,” one resident said.

“It’s hilarious in there,” said another resident.

“He needs to sit down and work with the people in office and get the city hall back right,” griped another citizen.

In the lawsuit, Harrington accuses Evans of failing to pay the village’s inflating water bill and adds the mayor now owes the City of Natchitoches over $20,000.

The suit adds, “clean bulk water may be discontinued for the mayor’s absolute failure to pay the water bill.”

Residents in Clarence also lamented over poor access to the village hall. In fact, the suit claims Evans changed the locks to the building.

“The mayor’s failure to hold public meetings prevents the board of alderman from inspecting financial records, books and bank statements to determine why some bills are not being paid,” the suit reads.

“I don’t know what to do,” said one resident.

Since 2017, Clarence has been without a police department. The village has also been under frequent water boil advisories in the past.

Residents also say there’s a lack of care for village maintenance, in addition to trash building on Clarence roads.

If a defendant fails to comply to a suit of this nature, a judge could fine them or sentence them to time in jail.

“We need some help in Clarence,” said an anonymous resident.

KSLA reached out to Evans multiple times for comment on the situation in Clarence, but he respectfully declined repeatedly.

Evans is scheduled to appear in Natchitoches Parish court on November 29 at 9 a.m.

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