Monroe Dispatch - No Struggle, No Progress

City Council Candidates Debate


February 20, 2020


Juanita Woods

The voters of the city of Monroe had the opportunity last week to hear from those individuals that are running for mayor in an effort to unseat the current incumbent mayor, Jamie Mayo. This week it was candidates from Districts 2, 3, 4 and 5 who shared the debate stage to become council leaders from their respective districts. The debates were held once again at the Civic Center sponsored by community radio station KDEM Monday(Feb.17)night before a crowd of concerned voters. The time to answer questions was limited, as a total of 13 candidates answered a variety of questions over a two hour period that was broken down in individual timed segments for each contested district. In District 2, incumbent Gretchen Ezernack faced off against city administrator Jackie Slack, as incumbent District 3 Juanita Woods'(current council chair)challenger was Alicia "Cocoa Cocoac" Calvin McCoy. In District 4 and 5 currently held by Kenneth Wilson and Eddie Clark, there were 4 candidates competing in District 5 and 5 candidates running in District 5. District 4 candidates are Jesse Smith, Jesse Walker, Trandon Welch and Carday Marshall, Sr. In District 5 the candidates are Eugene Payne, Jr., Kema Dawson, Kevin Johnson, Chresancio "Chee Chee" Jackson and Dewayne Wooten.

Candidates were asked questions that ranged from crime, flooding, jobs, education and bringing economic development to the city. All of the candidates said that crime was the number one issue facing the city, as their solutions ranged from having substations in their district, and a modest pay increase for police officers. But in district 3,4, and 5, the candidates said that there should be a more visible presence by police in their neighborhoods talking to the people. Patrols are needed, but perhaps walking in the neighborhood may build a sense of trust that is needed in some of the districts. As district 3,4 and 5 are mainly located on the city's south side, most of the answers to the city's problems had to do with south side. Those candidates put a heavy focus on education and helping young people get jobs because the unemployment is very high. If young people have nothing to do with their time, not being in rec. centers, but invest in them through education. The difference between the north side of town as compared to the south side was also a focal point from the south side candidates. They proposed taking advantage of "opportunity zones", where potential businesses bring economic development to the south side. They all agreed that as one candidate said, that the time for "gloom and doom" is over. The city should use its "greatest asset", which are the people that live here. One other area where there was universal agreement was, that each of the each of the candidates running for a seat on the council, all said that they were best suited to represent their constituents.


Jesse Smith

On issues such a bringing a casino to Monroe, some deferred on moral grounds, but they all said that it would be best left to the voters. A livable wage, some countered would be in the best interest of the city because a casino may end up leaving as it is alleged about to happen in Bossier Parish. Candidates said that ULM should continue to play an economic role in improving the quality of life in the city utilizing its staff and use CenturyLink's strong selling points. Candidates in districts 3,4 and 5 wants to see a more involved effort in beautification projects on the south side, as on the north side knowing that potential businesses are attracted to an area that looks good. But they also know that they must get the residents involved to help clean up their neighborhoods such as ditches and picking up trash. But interestingly enough, the name of the mayor was not mentioned once. That may change as the election get closer.

Photo City Council Juanita Woods


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