City Council at-large candidates explain goals

Published 8:20 am Monday, November 3, 2014

Four candidates are running for the Bogalusa City Council at-large seat in Tuesday’s General Election. Two candidates are to be elected.

Teddy Drummond, who currently fills the District D seat on the Council, is running as an at-large candidate in this election. Council President Doug Ritchie is the at-large incumbent. Newcomers in the race are International Paper employee Presious Johnson and General Dynamics Supervisor Shawn Chatmon Ratliff.

Teddy Drummond

Drummond has served four years on the Council. He said the switch to an at-large seat would be to his benefit.

“If anything, the last four years have helped me to prepare to have an at-large seat because I’ve been called on by people from all four corners of the city and its been my pleasure to help them.”

An International Paper employee, Drummond said he donates his $600 monthly City Council pay to charitable organizations inside Bogalusa.

“If elected as an at large candidate, I will continue to do that,” Drummond said.

Drummond said crime and poor roads are his top issues.

“It all goes back to money,” Drummond said. “I keep hearing people need to shop here, but people need to live here as well. We need to fix what’s broken so they will live here.

“The current administration is fixing the roads right, but it takes time. We spent a lot of money underneath Austin Street that was both costly and timely,” Drummond said. “Hopefully we won’t have to do it again.”

Regarding crime, Drummond said citizens must be vigilant.

“People need to get involved and call,” Drummond said. “How to get them involved is the question.”

Drummond said the Council is on the right track.

“I’ve enjoyed working with all the Council members,” Drummond said. “There has been very little bickering, and we seem to work well as a whole. I’m proud of the last four years. If I’m returned to the Council, I’ll stay on the course I started, promoting Bogalusa to the best of my ability. There are good people here. We would love to be able to turn the town around where kids can come back, but you’ve got to have something to come back to. We’re doing it slowly but surely. The main thing is to get it back to where it used to be.”

Doug Ritchie

Ritchie said Bogalusa has a myriad of problems to have to deal with, but said the problems are being addressed.

“We’ve got a lot of issues in Bogalusa like roads and sewer issues and aging infrastructure,” Ritchie said. “I do have to agree with the steps we’ve taken so far as fixing our roads. You do have to fix what is underneath it first for longevity instead of a temporary fix.”

Much has been said about how cash strapped the city’s is. Ritchie said that problem is being worked on.

“We’ve got that deficit issue, and we’re working on that diligently,” Ritchie said. “We will get that under control in a short period of time through the work we’re doing. It will be done with layoffs and through attrition. We’re not hiring back in positions that opened up.”

Ritchie said citizens need better protection from the criminal element.

Our police protection needs to be better,” Ritchie said. “We need a proactive police force instead of a reactive one.”

Ritchie, who is a co-owner of Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home, said city government and citizens alike must stay within their means.

“Our tax base is low and not going to get any better,” Ritchie said. “We’ve got to learn how to stay within our means and work with what we’ve got.”

Ritchie said he would like to see his home thrive.

“The biggest thing I’d like to say is I was born and raised in Bogalusa. I have a business in Bogalusa with the funeral home and want a good place for all of our citizens to live, feel safe and prosper,” Ritchie said.

Shawn Chatmon Ratliff

Ratliff said it hurts to see what Bogalusa has become.

“I’m running because the city of Bogalusa deserves a real change,” Ratliff said. “As a lifelong resident of Bogalusa, I have the desire to bring the magic back to Bogalusa. That means I would like to see Bogalusa renewed and renovated to her natural beauty.”

Ratliff said the community’s youngsters need an outlet.

“The youth in our community deserve recreational activities and organizations,” Ratliff said. “Elderly citizens need initiative that will help them build their self esteem and build their worth.”

“There are grants we can apply for. We need to stop all the wasteful spending, use all resources available to the community in order to get things done that needs to be done.”

Ratliff has never run for political office before now.

“I never had a desire before, but with the city in such critical ruin, I feel it is time for me to step up to the plate. I want to build a city my grandchildren can enjoy.”

Ratliff said Bogalusa’s problems come from poor management.

“People in the administration didn’t prioritize correctly,” Ratliff said. “I feel the monies to beautify Cassidy Park could have been spent on streets that need repair. In order to fix anything, you have to get to the cause of the problem. You can’t fix the roads until you do the sewer underneath.”

Ratliff said the city needs people to return.

“I want to see people smiling again. I’m proud to be from Bogalusa. My vision is to see Bogalusa thriving and bustling again with activity,” she said.

Presious Johnson

Presious Johnson said she believes she can make a difference in the city.

“We are running for office because I believe we can make a difference,” Johnson said. “I said ‘we’ because there’s no way I got here by myself. There were great people that poured into my spirit and continue to pray for my strength in carrying out God’s vision for His people.”

Johnson said problems with youth need to be addressed.

“Our children need to see that being a leader is not out of their reach,” Johnson said. “If we can encourage just one child to strive for greatness in the midst of the storm, that makes it all worth it. If we can show our city that her government does care and is willing to fight for better opportunities, I know people will believe again. “

Johnson said her passion for the city is real.

“I love Bogalusa. I grew up here during a time where there was still a village to raise the children and even young adults,” Johnson said. “I am asking Bogalusa to allow me the honor of serving her and the opportunity to get to know her and give wings to her ideas, concerns and aspirations of growth.”

Johnson said life’s lessons have taught her well.

“Life is the greatest teacher and brings the greatest experience,” Johnson said. “As a veteran and mother, I have proven that I’m willing to do the work and make the sacrifices necessary without prejudice. We have to make decisions that represent everyone in every district, especially those people that can’t speak for themselves.”

Johnson’s platform consists of five building blocks.

“My focus is on unity, economic development, entrepreneurship, community service and youth development,” Johnson said. “If by chance my competitors are successful at plotting my demise, please know that I will not give up. God’s vision for our city will prevail.”