BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Early voting for the March 20 election began Saturday morning in Bossier Parish, which includes the first contested Bossier City mayoral race in 16 years.
By 4 p.m. Saturday, the Bossier Registrar of Voters office estimated around 100 people had voted in the Bossier Parish Courthouse in Benton, La., around 14 miles from Bossier City, while estimating around 400 had voted at the Bossier Library’s History Center, about a block down from Bossier City Hall.
Early voting began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. Saturday. It will begin again Monday and run from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Saturday.
The election will be held March 20.
Tommy Chandler, 60-year-old Bossier businessman and lifelong Bossier resident is challenging incumbent Mayor Lorenz Walker, who is running for an unprecedented fifth term.
Walker, first ran for Bossier mayor against Dement in 1989, but was defeated. He then went to work as the city’s CAO, only running for the job when Dement retired in 2005. When Walker ran for mayor in 2005, the population of Bossier City was estimated to be 60,505, yet only 4,499 people -7.4% of the total population – turned out to vote.
In that election, Walker was challenged by Bossier businesswoman Anita Steadman, who Walker handily beat, garnering 91% of the vote, or 4,146 votes to Steadman’s 353 votes. Since then, Walker has not drawn a challenger until Chandler got into the race on the final day of qualifying.
Other contested races in the city include both at-large members of the City Council Local builder Tim Larkin and businessman David Montgomery were both elected as at-large members of the Bossier City Council in 2001 and are running for unprecedented sixth terms.
But in this election, their seats are being challenged by political newcomers Chris Smith and Lee A. Jeter.
In City Council District 1, incumbent Scott Irwin, will face south Bossier realter Shane Cheatham, who has served two terms on the Bossier Parish School Board, serving as president in 2019.
Irwin, who was first elected to the District 1 Bossier City Council seat in a special election on Oct. 4, 2003, to fill the unexpired term of Mike Sledge, who resigned. Irwin ran unopposed in the 2005 and 2009 elections, but in 2013, drew opponent Mike Beam, who he beat, garnering 69% of the votes; and in 2017 was challenged by former Bossier School Board member, the late Lindell Webb, who he beat 65% to 34%.
The District 5 seat is up for grabs after being vacated by incumbent Tommy Hardy opted not run for reelection. That race pits longtime Bossier grocer Vince Maggio against Martha McAllister, who with her husband Mike has owned McAllister Plumbing in Bossier City for 40 years.
Also on the ballot is a special election to fill the District 4 seat on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education District, which was vacated by Tony Davis, who relocated out of Louisiana.
District 4 consists of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine and Webster Parishes. Those candidates are:
Shelly McFarland – Republican
Michael Melerine – Republican
John Milkovich – Independent
Emma Shepard – Democrat (withdrew)
Cody Whitaker – No Party
“Cassie” Williams – Democrat