Sunday, May 26, 2024

Successful recalls are a small-town phenomenon in Louisiana

by BIZ Magazine

By Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator

Organizers of an effort to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell have until Wednesday to turn in roughly 50,000 signatures to force an election to decide whether she keeps her seat. If they are successful, it would mark a rare occasion as there is no history of such campaigns succeeding in large cities. 

Records from the Secretary of State show mixed results from recall elections in recent years. In seven recall elections held in Louisiana over the past 10 years, four have succeeded. They are held far more frequently in smaller municipalities than in large cities and parishes.

The State Department has recall election results dating back to 1966. It appears the largest city to recall an official is Port Allen, which ousted Mayor Deedy Slaughter in 2013. Its population at the time was 5,103, meaning 1,700 signatures were needed to call an election.       

The most recent Louisiana official to be recalled is Police Chief Ronnell “Bruce” Broussard of Washington, a tiny town in St. Landry Parish. He was removed from office in a 2016 recall election after opponents said he wasn’t showing up for work often enough. Broussard blamed a work-related injury, according to the Acadiana Advocate. The recall petition obtained more than the required 322 signatures from Washington’s 807 registered voters.

The three recall elections since then – a Mansfield alderman, the Richwood mayor and a Franklinton alderman – have all failed.

One of the higher profile recall undertakings was the failed 2017 attempt to oust Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni from office. It came up short of the 90,000 signatures needed to require an election. Yenni withstood the onslaught despite having admitted sending “improper text messages to a young man” who was 17 years old at the time.

A petition to replace Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins failed in 2021, though he lost his reelection bid last year. 

Two more notable recall attempts are simultaneously underway in Monroe. Organizers have until April 11 to gather nearly 7,300 signatures to force a referendum on Mayor Friday Ellis. The clock is also ticking on a petition to recall Monroe Councilwoman Kema Dawson. Nearly 2,000 signatures are needed by March 6. 

Ellis, who is white, and Dawson, who is Black, have failed to respond to constituent needs, according to their detractors.

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