CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - Towns have stories to tell, much like quilts. With every stitch and square, they piece together a part of history.
“I think that's kind of fun and exciting. Quilts are like that, they have a story,” says Central resident, Margaret Chair.
For the City of Central, their narrative is ever-changing. This most recent election will no doubt be one the folks there dare not forget. Central now has a new set of people set to lead the city in a different direction come next year.
“I would like to see, and I believe that we will see, transparency, number one,” Chair said. “The people in this community have spoken loud and clear about what they want and what they don’t want.”
The people of Central sent a message with Tuesday night’s results. In two months, they are going to completely start over, with a new mayor and a completely new city council.
One term mayor, Junior Shelton, was unseated by David Barrow. Current District 1 council member, Jason Ellis, was unseated by Aaron Moak. District 2 council member, John Vance, was unseated by Joshua Roy, and District 3 council member, “Kim” Fralick, was unseated by “Dave” Freneaux. And in more upsets, District 4 council member, Shane Evans, was unseated by Despo “D’Ann” Wells. District 5 will have a runoff election between Charles Lee Hinton and Briton Myer.
Voters, like longtime resident, Gloria Smith, say they hope this can unite the community. Smith says she remembers a time when the community was called the “Country City,” and the people were close-knit. “I hope this brings us back together. Maybe now that people have gotten whom they wanted in office, maybe it will bring things back like it used to be,” Smith said.
“There was a turnover because people were not satisfied with the current officials in office,” said newly elected Mayor David Barrow. “They wanted a clean slate. It was a 60 percent turnout yesterday, which is really high.”
Barrow, who served 8 years as a chief administrative officer, slid into the mayor’s seat with more than 50 percent of the vote. He says the city was lacking transparency and communication. Barrow says he plans to bring both. “With 28,000 people, not everybody is going to agree on everything, but they at least want their voices to be heard and that’s something.”
Leaders say among the biggest topics are tackling the flood issues and the city’s unwanted growth. Barrow says there’s a plan. “There’s no magic cure for the drainage problems, but we can look at some more routine drainage. We can’t solve every problem. We’d like to have all the money we have, but we’ve got a limited budget. We’re going to do the best we can with it and try to do as many projects as we can," he said.
Barrow says a drainage study conducted by Shelton’s administration will be released soon. He says from that will come recommended projects improvements he plans to examine and act on.
While exercising your civic duty to vote might not have ended with your candidate on top, most seem to be optimistic about the future.
“I have to be,” Smith said. “It’s my city. It’s my community. You’ve got to support them.”
“We have some major things that need to be taken care of in our community and believe we’re going to see those things happen,” Chair said.
There was also a shake up at the Central Police Department. Current chief, James Salsbury, was unseated by Roger Corcoran.
*Note: We initially reported incorrect information that the runoff election in Central’s 5th District was between Charles Hinton and Jeffrey Meyers. That has since been corrected to reflect the runoff is between Charles Hinton and Briton Myer.