SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport native, geologist and teacher has officially made her move toward the top spot in the city Sunday night as she formally kicked off her campaign.
Victoria Provenza made public her intention to run for Shreveport mayor at a gathering of supporters at Mandina's Grill on Fannin Street. She is anchoring her campaign to her business savvy and local roots.
"I feel that I can provide this city ethical leadership through all of the challenges that we're facing," she said. "And I have the skills in the corporate world to bring those to fruition."
Provenza, a mother of two, was born and raised in the Port City, but left in the 80s for California and a career as a Superfund manager.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Centenary College and went on to manage projects in the oil and gas industry. She specialized in Haynesville shale.
Her later work with the Superfunds found her managing multi-million dollar budgets for 17 sites. She also worked directly with the EPA to help clean up the environment.
But that hasn't left her with any political fallout. In fact, Provenza said she's aligned with no particular political machine.
"I am not team Glover, I am not team Tarver. I am team Shreveport," the independent said, adding that her supporters are her team now. "I will bring a compassion and ethical leadership to this city."
Provenza learned a lot of her basic management skills in an unlikely place - as a stay-at-home mom.
"I actually learned a tremendous amount of management skills by being a mother," she said.
Another training ground for the candidate has been her work as a teacher at C. E. Byrd High School in the digital and technology departments for the past two years.
"I'm passionate about it," she said. "I love the hands-on capabilities that I have with my students. I love opening their eyes to a world that's a global world, not just Shreveport."
It's skills like these that would help her face what she said are the city's challenges, including mis-management of infrastructure needs, such as problems with street and sewer upkeep.
The candidate plans to make a comprehensive plan to address engineering issues.
After being away from home for years, Provenza was able to relocate her small business from Colorado back to her hometown. Contracts through the USAF's Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base allowed her to find work in Shreveport. When that work dried up, she was nearly forced to move back to Colorado.
"But I learned my lesson the first time," Provenza said. "I said, 'Heck no, I won't go.'"
And that choice has parlayed into a desire to be at the helm of her hometown.
The mayoral hopeful said she knew she wanted to lead Shreveport all those years ago, and even as she continues to work as a consultant for cities and municipalities in local and regional government.
And she called out for her ranks to help engage civic leadership throughout all of the city, which she said is lacking in unity.
"The other issue facing Shreveport is social issues and social justice issues here in Shreveport that very seriously need to be addressed," she said.
Provenza served as the president of the MLK Junior Unity Alliance in Colorado for 15 years. This is her first run for public office. She joins Melvin Slack, state representatives Roy Burrell and Patrick Williams and Ollie Tyler in her bid for city hall.
The bottom line for Provenza is bringing a business perspective to running the city and is not based on politics - and she's ready.
"We've done enough studying," she said, giving a nod to her work as a teacher. "It's time to take the test."