Women among new city leaders

Published 10:43 am Friday, December 4, 2015

At first glance, District E Bogalusa City Councilwoman Sherry Fortenberry comes across as a person who doesn’t put up with a lot of foolishness.

As the mother of three biological children and a host of foster children, it’s easy to understand how Fortenberry doesn’t have time for any shenanigans.

The same goes for her work on the Bogalusa City Council. She is plainspoken and to the point, listens intently to the proceedings and takes notes.

That characteristic immediately came into play Tuesday night after she was elected city council president. Soon after taking over the meeting, Fortenberry began by telling the audience that she would not have any finger pointing, name-calling, false accusations, fist pounding or any other disruptions that have occurred as of late. I believe she meant it.

Her first meeting as president went smoothly, and I believe she got off on the right foot. She let everyone know off the bat that she was in charge.   

Along with Fortenberry, District B Councilwoman Tamira Smith was voted vice president. She succeeded Malinda White. Fortenberry took over the presidency from Teddy Drummond, who did a yeoman’s job during his tenure.

It’s the first time since 2003 that females have occupied the council’s top two seats. In 2003, Mack McGehee was mayor. Johni Miles-Blount was council president and current mayor Wendy Perrette was vice president.

Perrette said she was proud of the advances. She credited educator Mary Boulware with the being the pioneer for helping women attain such lofty goals in city government. During the 1990s, Boulware was the first female elected to the council. She was elected at-large.

“Mary Boulware paced the way for us women today,” Perrette said. “She paced the way for us even being in government. I was in high school when she was elected. She set a good example for us ladies. We all could learn something from Mary Boulware. She is a class act.”

Perrette said Fortenberry and Smith help make the council stronger.

“I think the three of us ladies there now work well together,” Perrette said. “We’re going to continue to work together. We are a strong team.”

Boulware and Miles later campaigned for mayor, but were defeated. Tina Ratliff ran for mayor in the last election, but finished behind Perrette and former mayor Charles Mizell. Perrette and Miles are former educators as well.

They say change is often difficult, but Bogalusa is making strides in that direction.

“I’m proud Bogalusa is moving forward and not sticking to the stigmas of the past with women,” Perrette said. “I’m proud of them all.”

Near the end of her first meeting, Fortenberry seemed to score points with long-time council antagonist Fate Ferrell. He has long advocated some type of town hall meeting to discuss the city’s blighted neighborhoods and trash. He lets it be known that he doesn’t care if his attitude rubs some people the wrong way. Fortenberry said she would work on putting together such a meeting.

That was a great start to her tenure, in my opinion. No doubt about it, this lady’s in charge.

Randy Hammons is a staff writer with the Daily News. He can be contacted by calling 985-732-2565 or by email at randy.hammons@bogalusadailynews.com.