SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Tom Arceneaux will become the third Republican mayor in Shreveport’s history since Reconstruction and the first in 24 years when he is sworn into office on New Year’s Eve.
“And it will look different than what it has looked in the past,” Arceneaux said after his victory speech on Saturday. “In the future, it means that everyone has a seat at the table. It means that we build consensus, and it means that we will move forward together.”
That is the plan, at least. But Arceneaux won the run-off election in a city where roughly 55% of registered voters are African American and members of a voting bloc that historically tends to favor Democrats at the polls.
“Over the last 20 years or so, people have been saying there’s no way that a white Republican will ever win office again in Shreveport,” says local pundit Steven Parr.
Although Arceneaux’s win is major, Parr says what happens once he takes office is what matters.
“Just because he’s got a coalition to support him at the polls doesn’t mean he’s going to get a chance to hold onto that once he’s in office.”
That is because Democrats still have the majority on the city council, with five out the seven seats. It takes four votes to approve local laws and make key decisions affecting how the city runs.
Theron Jackson, another local political analyst, turnout was only 30% in Saturday’s run-off election – which means about 70% of registered voters did not show up to vote.
Jackon says the next four years will truly be a test not only for Arceneaux but for city council members and for the people of Shreveport.
“This will prove to be, I think, a real examination of whether or not we are interested in working together and moving forward as a city,” Jackson said.
Dr. Alan Jackson, who kept his city council District E seat in Saturday’s runoff, says he will not allow party affiliations to stop him from working with the mayor-elect.
“I promise you that we will go in with an open mind, open heart, and we will figure out a way to work together.”.
Ursula Bowman, newly elected to District B, says she, too, will do everything in her power to work with Arceneaux and the rest of the city council in order to move Shreveport forward.