Mayor forum held Thursday

Published 4:06 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

AARP Bogalusa Chapter 4032, the Washington Parish Council on Aging, the Bogalusa Senior Citizens Center, the Washington Parish NAACP, and the Washington Men’s Club presented a Bogalusa mayoral candidates’ forum on Thursday afternoon at the Senior Citizens Center on Willis Avenue.

Emma Dixon, president of the AARP Bogalusa chapter, said that there was good attendance with more than 50 senior citizens attending the event.

All mayoral candidates were invited and notified. Those in attendance were James “Mack” McGehee, Wendy Perrette, Tina Ratliff and Doug Ritchie.

Charles M. “Chuck” Hughes Jr. served as the moderator for the event and Nancy McBeth, executive director of the Council on Aging, served as the timekeeper.

Dixon said that many of the candidates and attendees shared with her that Thursday’s forum was the “best candidate forum they have attended to date.”

“Chuck Hughes did an excellent job,” Dixon said.

Hughes said he thought the forum was very well done, as well.

“I really enjoyed acting as the moderator for the forum and hope that it was helpful in developing and discussing the important issues facing our great city,” he said.

The questions asked of the candidates were as follows:

  • Young people in Bogalusa are leaving in droves and have for some time. There is a noted lack of youth activities, youth facilities and youth recreational opportunities. What are your specific plans to develop youth activities and facilities and opportunities and most importantly, how do you propose to pay for this?
  • It has been reported that the state of Louisiana has threatened to take over city financial functions in light of the looming problems with the city employee retirement system. Please give the specific details of your plan to fix the city’s finances and describe any plan you have to increase revenue, including whether you will propose a millage, sales tax, or fee increase. In other words, where are you going to get the money?
  • In 2009, a four-mill property tax was passed in the city with a portion of the tax dedicated to acquisition, construction, improvement, operation and maintenance of city buildings specifically including on the ballots a reference to the Senior Citizens Center building. Recently, on June 5, 2018, the Louisiana Attorney General issued an opinion stating “the City must use the tax proceeds according to the ballot language.” Please answer, yes or no, with an explanation if you like a) will you include a specific line item on the budget for these dedicated purposes, and b) will you agree to conduct an audit for past expenditures?
  • Across our country, there is significant tension between law enforcement and the African-American community. What are your plans to build a spirit of cooperation and trust between the Bogalusa Police Department and all citizens of Bogalusa, including the African-American community?
  • The streets and infrastructure of Bogalusa are in bad shape and have been crumbling. What are your specific plans to address this problem and specifically how do you plan on financing any improvements?
  • The Bogalusa City Charter was enacted 40 years ago in 1978. Many people have said it is due for an update. Would you support a revision and rewrite to the City Charter and what thoughts do you have regarding reorganization of city departments and the Charter?