Tonight, I attended a Shreveport Mayoral forum with most of the candidates for the Shreveport mayoral race. It was hosted by the Political Action Council for Equality, a group that supports and attempts to extend rights for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender people. One of the officers and “focus group facilitators” is one of my previous teachers for whom I have immense respect, Adrienne Critcher. She also sponsors our school‘s Gay Straight Alliance, of which I am a member. I’m really proud to be a part of the organization. It was the least I could do to show up to show solidarity for the mayoral forum.
That mayoral panel was informative and largely hilarious due to the crazy people. I’ll cover those first. For reference in the following, I’m an atheist who supports Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender rights. I support rights for everyone, actually. My impressions are below.
This guy is absolutely nuts. He brought his bible and spouted off about the lord Jesus on every single reply and ended by saying that in heaven he wanted to be on somebody’s football team. He then left because he said he had to get to somebody’s retirement party or something. He was laughed at by almost everyone. Not to mention that he said he wouldn’t hire gay people unless they knew the lord Jesus. As far as I could tell, Vernon never really answered a question. Picture the oldest, most crotchety man in the world literally thumping a bible. I was able to hold it back until the football team quote. Then I lost it. He also said that being gay was a choice.
Madjun Ali (No website that I can find)
I don’t know if he’s doing this because he lost a bet or because he’s doing it on a bet or if he thinks it’s a big joke. He’s definitely funny though. If I recall correctly, he said he is 29, and admittedly he has no experience to qualify him for the job. On top of that, he showed up late because he couldn’t find the place. On every response, he made most of the audience laugh including me. I don’t know if this was on purpose (in accordance with the “big joke” comment earlier), but he was definitely funny. A memorable comment was that he didn’t care who you got it on with. Madjun tried to answer questions, but he was so immature and not very well spoken. He seemed sincere and didn’t seem to hold any prejudices, but his lack of diplomacy (I can’t think of another word) left everyone laughing. I remember when he said it didn’t matter whether you’re as “straight as an arrow” or “crooked as an X”.
Henry Hodge-Bey (No website that I can find)
This guy was #3 on the laugh scale. Every comment he had was about being the best we could be. He never really answered a question either. I don’t have much to say about this guy, but he definitely isn’t a real candidate in my opinion. He invoked religion a lot too. “I thank God I’m here today”. “God didn’t make two men the same way; we all have something we’re better at than any other man every ‘made’”.
Not Crazy Ones
Cedric the Entertainer
He’s not really Cedric the Entertainer. He’s really Cedric B. Glover. But he is black and really large just like Cedric the Entertainer, so that’s with whom I immediately associated him. Sorry for the initial conclusions. His messages seemed to be, for the most part, directly on point. He did say he considers himself a minister and that he can’t leave his faith at home. There was nothing more said about that, but he said faith wouldn’t impact his hiring decisions. He didn’t seem to exhibit any real prejudices. I thought he was very personable and someone for whom I might possibly vote.
Jerry Jones (Beware of Flash, not a real site)
You’ve probably seen his signs everywhere. He’s the bald guy, or the white guy, or the male republican, or the charismatic one. Any of those could uniquely describe him in this race. I have a feeling he’ll win the Republican primary and go on to win the Mayoral race. I’m more than likely not voting for him, but I have a feeling he might win, and he is a candidate for whom I might possibly vote. He too said he doesn’t leave his faith at home, but that it makes him a better person. He didn’t seem overtly religious, but just regularly religious. He seemed to be straightforward with the fact that he didn’t care what color, sex, creed (or hopefully lack thereof), or sexual orientation that you are when considering applicants for appointed decisions. He was the only one that was straightforward with his position on same-sex marriage. I’ll cover that at the bottom with the others’ positions. Here’s a spoiler: You won’t like his position. However, he was the only really honest one with that question. He said he had some plan for the deficit but didn’t say what it was.
This is the same Ed Bradley of KSLA. He does frequent short speeches on that channel about issues in the Shreveport-Bossier City area. He has always cracked me up since I’ve been little with those because he employs the William Shatner style of delays in the middle of his sentences after every three syllables. I was thinking this was going to be another example of this. I was wrong. He is very well spoken when giving pseudo-impromptu speeches (a list of questions to be asked was given at the beginning, so there was limited time to prepare a response). With one exception that was shared by all but one candidate, he gave on-point answers for every question. He was the only candidate that always started off his 2 minute speech with a direct answer to the question that had been asked by the moderator. I would definitely consider voting for him, even though I didn’t think this would be the case before tonight.
She seemed to be pretty down to earth. Out of the two women running, I’d definitely vote for her over Liz Swaine. I’ve had a personal experience with Liz Swaine that makes me dislike her on which I’ll be willing to go more in depth at a later date. However, I don’t like Mayor Hightower’s fiscal policies and Liz is following directly in his footsteps. We don’t need another Hightower. Liz didn’t even show up for this panel due to a “previous commitment”. I don’t know if that commitment was not ever talking to people concerned with GLBT rights.
I started a new paragraph this time because that first one was just complaining about Liz Swaine. I made sure to not ambiguously use “she” in that paragraph. Arlena was well-spoken and claimed to have ways to deal with the budget deficit, but didn’t really say what those were. She didn’t seem to be overtly religious, but said that faith wouldn’t play a role in hiring. She said she was definitely against discrimination. Also, her daughter April is extremely attractive. She was sitting a few seats away from me. Arlena definitely wins the hot daughter award. I would consider voting for her, but not because of the daughter, unless the daughter will be publicly visible. 🙂
Wilson McMullan (No website that I can find)
Poor kid. He looked like he was about 12 years old. He didn’t get off work until really late so he only got to make a closing statement. He hated that buses didn’t run past midnight. That really seemed to piss him off. He was wearing a “Vote for Pedro” shirt, which is strange because his name doesn’t translate to Pedro in Spanish. What do I know though? I was wearing an “Oh, NOOOOO!!!” shirt.
What did these candidates think that P.A.C.E. was? Vernon said gay people need to find Jesus because Jesus and his bible told him to. None of the candidates even voted on the same-sex state constitutional ban except Jerry. None of them had a firm position except Jerry. Arlena said she wanted to remain “neutral” on the issue. How in the world can you be neutral about civil rights? You’re either for or against them, not somewhere in between. To reiterate, they said (and they might be lying) that they didn’t even vote for or against the amendment. Your future elected officials don’t vote on important issues like this? I highly doubt that. If it’s true, then it is a sad city in which we live.
In case you’re still on the edge of your seat, Jerry said that he opposes same-sex marriage and that he voted for the amendment banning it. In case you’re wondering about me, I voted against it. The vast majority of Louisiana disagreed with me. Cedric the Entertainer was actually in the state house of representatives that put it before the state for a vote and he said that he supports “civil unions” but of course wouldn’t come down on the real issue either way. This was after saying he wouldn’t “tap dance around the issue” like the others. He got an ovation for that, and then proceeded to do a nice little tap dance number.
I will most likely be voting for Ed Bradley, Arlena Acree, or Cedric the Entertainer. Even though Jerry was a straight shooter on the issue of gay marriage, he hit the wrong target. However, if you want to laugh until you realize the reality, vote for Vernon.
I don’t even know who will be left after the primaries, but those are my opinions if the election was going to be held tomorrow between these candidates (and Liz Swaine… I don’t like her).
Please feel free to link freely to this for other people who want to know how the forum went. That is, if you’re interested in my opinions of the panel.
Disclaimer: The “quotes” are quotes as far as they go in my mind. They may be slightly off, but the meaning is the same. The quotes are there to denote they are things that they said, but not necessarily the exact words. For the most part, they are exact. Feel free to correct me on anything. These are all my opinions and not necessarily the opinions of anyone else.