SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The underdog story of Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins' bid to become a U.S. senator came to an end on election night.
Perkins was unable to clear even 20 percent of the vote, let alone force a runoff with incumbent Republican Bill Cassidy, who garnered 59 percent of the vote to earn a second term.
With no distractions of a senate race any longer, the first-term mayor can turn his attention full time once again to a host of issues facing the city of Shreveport.
Some of the biggest challenges include fighting a big surge in violent crime this year, not to mention getting essential pay raises for Shreveport police officers, who are over-worked and grossly underpaid compared to other departments across the country.
For months we’ve heard about the desperate need to raise police salaries for officers over-worked, underpaid and leaving in droves in recent years for better conditions.
After considerable debate and delays, Shreveport City Council Chairman James Flurry says he’s optimistic salary increases are on the way, especially since Mayor Perkins' attention will no longer be split between his senate run and his role as mayor of Shreveport.
“It’s a process. So it will be introduced next Tuesday. Then it has to lay over. But I believe we will come together where we’ll have the votes to move it forward. And that’s going to be better than what we had," said Flurry.
Fellow Shreveport City Council member LeVette Fuller has also had her eye squarely on improving officer salaries in recent months.
“After our last meeting there seems to be some consensus that the administration might take a lead on it now and present their plans back to us. And I look forward to seeing what they’re ready to present," said Fuller.
Flurry, meanwhile, says regardless of what happens with the officer pay issue, that’s just one of many issues the council must come together on in unison with Mayor Perkins' administration.
“I’m telling you what, we all need to work together. And we’ve got to work toward a common goal, and that’s to help better our city. And I believe we’re on our way in the next few weeks in trying to show that we have unity and we’re going to try to do the right thing," said Flurry.
We reached out to the mayor’s office the day after the election to hear what Mayor Perkins has to say about the next chapter in his first-term in public office.
A city spokesperson told said Perkins was not available.
As for Shreveport voters, for the most part, they are a patient bunch. That’s especially true when you consider the nearly non-stop work that’s been underway in the last decade to repair and replace much of the city’s crumbling infrastructure.
When Perkins lost his bid in the U.S. senate race, several voters shared some specific ideas of what the city of Shreveport needs right now.
James Williams, a proud Pepsi employee, said, “I’m gonna tell ya, the biggest thing for me, because I work for Pepsi and I drive all day, the roads in Shreveport are horrible.”
Williams explained it is not just bad road conditions in Shreveport, but also what he perceives as a lack of police presence in middle class areas with less high profile violent crimes.
Shreveport resident Rahman Clark agrees with Williams, saying, “I overhead the guy saying the streets in the city are horrible, which they are because I’ve got to get some work done on my car for a pothole out here. And, it’s coming out of my pocket. So, I would like to see that one more.”
Other voters, like Jeff Mangin, said it’s difficult to name just one or two issues when you consider they are so often tied to other factors.
“It’s hard to get in there and start pulling out, ‘well, we need better education. Well, you can’t have education if kids are afraid to go to school. So then you have to have crime prevention. So then to have crime prevention you have to have stable families,’" said Mangin.