One-on-one with Shreveport Mayor-elect Tom Arceneaux
How did a Republican candidate win in Shreveport?
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — So how did he do it?
A Republican candidate for mayor winning in the City of Shreveport.
On Saturday, Dec. 10, Tom Arceneaux was elected with 56% of the vote to serve as the 58th mayor of the city of Shreveport.
He defeated Democrat Greg Tarver, a two-term state senator, in a runoff.
Arceneaux is scheduled to be sworn into office Dec. 31. So it’s a very fast transition.
He will replace Mayor Adrian Perkins, another Democrat, who was eliminated in the primary election in November.
On the morning of Monday, Dec. 12, Arceneaux — a well-known attorney and former city councilman — sat down with KSLA Chief Investigative Reporter Stacey Cameron.
During their one-on-one interview, Cameron candidly asked the mayor-elect how a Republican candidate was able to pull off an election night upset in the traditionally Democrat stronghold of Shreveport.
Cameron: About four months ago, I think a lot of people would’ve looked at this election and thought a Republican couldn’t possibly win this seat. It’s been 28 years since the city last elected a Republican. How did Tom Arceneaux, a Republican win this election?
Arceneaux: Well, I think that people thought of me as a leader and a servant more than they thought of me, uh, because of my race or because of my party registration. And I, I think that that made it a huge difference. And then we were able, as a result of those relationships, we were able to put together kind of a coalition of people that looked a lot like the city of Shreveport. We had white people and black people. We had, uh, Republicans and Democrats and Independents, all of whom simply believed that the city needed to go in a different direction.
Cameron: But you felt confident in being a candidate, you could never have imagined a 12-point victory and the runoff, could you?
Arceneaux: No, absolutely not. That was, uh, the, the margin of victory was stunning to me. And I think that’s because we had a very effective get out the vote, uh, effort in the last week to get, to get the Arceneaux supporters out there to vote. And, by golly, they responded to it.
Cameron: And do you think that’s a message from the voters that they wanted an agent of change sitting in the seat of mayor in Shreveport?
Arceneaux: I like to think that.
Cameron: Let me ask you this, Mr. Mayor-elect, our past two mayors have each had the opportunity to appoint a new chief of police. Uh, will you work with the police department and maybe speak with our current chief Wayne Smith about the possibility that you could appoint a new police chief, or are you happy the direction that the leadership the department has right now?
Arceneaux: My current intention is not to do that, uh, because the police, uh, the police department’s been through a little bit of upheaval with several shifts, and that’s not good for generally speaking, for morale. I think Chief Smith has made some changes that I think are being successful. I have some other ones to suggest to him, uh, that, but I’ll do that. Uh, you know, I I I try not to run departments, uh, from the press. So I will, uh, I will visit with him about some of those ideas about how can we get more officers in, in officer type positions, um, how do we transition that? What other resources in the community might we be able to use?
Cameron: One of the longest-running controversies in the city of Shreveport is the I-49 Inner-City Connector. There’s a large percentage of the public that doesn’t want it, concerns that it will tear apart neighborhoods. There’s others that believe it’s necessary to move our economy into the next century. Where do you stand on the I 49 connector?
Arceneaux: I’m in favor of it, and I, I actually think that the, the number of people who are opposed to it is relatively small. They’re very, they’re very articulate and they, they make very, very good points as though they need to be listened to and some of their concerns need to be addressed. But when I finally had to just make a call one way or the other, and I looked at it on balance, I felt like it was something that we do need to do.
Cameron: Staying on the issue of the economy. There was great news and, and a lot of people very excited when the announcement that Amazon would build a new fulfillment center here, but the dates and the deadlines for that continue to get pushed back. We’re talking, uh, early next year now maybe before they start hiring people February, right? It could be May before they open. Amazon has made announcements that they’re closing some fulfillment centers before they even break ground. Where are we on that? Are you aware of, is this still going forward to schedule? Do you have worry as some do in the community that it may never be built in open?
Arceneaux: Right, so this is two questions. So let me answer the first, the first question is, no, I don’t know. I don’t have any information about that. Number two, am I worried about it? Yes, I am. Because those are the kinds of things that they generate a huge amount of excitement and then if you take it away, a huge amount of disappointment. But that’s one reason that I want to focus on local economic development. As much as we focus on, uh, big fish economic development, we have thousands of businesses in the city of Shreveport of people who are here because they like to live in the city of Shreveport. They want to have their business here. I want to make sure that they have the opportunity to expand their business. And you think about it, suppose we have 15,000 businesses in Shreveport and we make it possible for each one of those businesses to add one person, that’s 15,000 jobs. We ought to be thinking in that way.
Cameron: One of the biggest events every year that put national eyeballs on the city of Shreveport is the Independence Bowl. Right? The game is played in 11 days. Right now. Last year there was a scathing article by a sports writer who came in from Utah following BYU and the Cougars, and he wrote part of it that he said, this doesn’t look like a destination bowl. That writer talked about broken windows. He talked about dilapidated buildings. What can you do as the mayor to change the aesthetics of Shreveport?
Arceneaux: It is really clear to me that our gateways to the city we need to pay very careful attention to. If he did nothing else, he, he said, look, people are paying attention when they drive from the airport to, uh, to the fairgrounds. One of the things that happens is, is that companies that are interested in moving to Shreveport, they send an advanced team here, but they don’t tell us they’re sending an advanced team here. They just come in and look. So I’ve had, uh, I’ve had an economic developer look at me and say, the best thing you can do for economic development in Shreveport is clean up the city. And, and I’m taking that to heart. So part of my economic development plan is to clean up the city, and we have got to address those things aggressively, and that’s something I’m very passionate about, and I’m gonna be trying to direct as many resources as I can find to doing that.
Cameron: That will become a priority
Arceneaux: An absolute priority for me.
Cameron: All right. Well, Mr. Mayor-elect, thank you very much.
Arceneaux: Thank you so much.
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