St. Gabriel elects new mayor

ST. GABRIEL, LA (WAFB) - Voters in St. Gabriel this weekend elected a new city leader, ousting Mayor George Grace -- the only leader the city has ever known.

Mayor-elect Lionel Johnson, Jr. won by a 97 vote margin. Johnson said it is a major win for the city and that there is a lot of work to be done.

He said his first priority is bringing the city together "by being fair, by being honest, by being open" and "by tapping different leaders throughout the community, ministers and business people who have some influence."

Grace has been mayor since 1994. He is under indictment, accused of accepting bribes in a federal corruption case.  Grace's trial is scheduled for January.

Johnson said St. Gabriel is a city of 6,000, but about 2,000 are registered to vote.  He said that means one-third of voters chose him, another third voted for Grace and one-third didn't even cast a ballot.

Johnson said one of his first tasks will also be to clean up the image of City Hall. Johnson said he found citizens believed the business of the city was a one man show. No more, he said.

Johnson said he also wants to attract businesses to St. Gabriel and add jobs.

"We know it's going to be hard. Work with us, give us time to get everything the way we want it to be," he said.

Johnson will be sworn in July 1.  He said Mayor Grace called him Saturday night to talk about the transition of power.

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