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Minden, La. will elect first new mayor in 20 years - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Minden, La. will elect first new mayor in 20 years

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Walter "Woo" Morgan Walter "Woo" Morgan
Tommy Davis Tommy Davis
Joe Cornelius Joe Cornelius
MINDEN, La. -

Come the Oct. 19 election, the people of Minden, Louisiana will choose a new mayor to lead their town. It's a position that the late Bill Robertson, who passed away in June this year, occupied for more than 20 years. He was in the middle of his sixth term at the time of his death. 

Three men are campaigning to convince voters to let them follow Robertson's legacy of leadership. If a runoff is necessary, it would be Nov. 16. The mayoral candidates are local businessmen Walter "Woo'' Morgan,  a Democrat, Tommy Davis, the lone Republican, who is also on the town council and interim mayor Joe Cornelius, a Democrat. Cornelius was a councilman before being named to the interim post by the council in June. The three stand on similar platforms - job creation. With parish unemployment at 7.8 percent, job creation is an issue many voters in Minden seem to want addressed by the candidates. 

"They need to build up our city more, so everyone has a better opportunity getting jobs and getting paid the right way," Kelly, an antique shop employee in downtown Minden, said. 

Olivia Elkins, a beautician and salon owner just doors down from Kelly, would agree. She points out interim mayor Joe Cornelius has a plan for job creation. Elkins plans to vote for him.
"I think he'll make a great mayor. When I first moved here from New Orleans, he stopped by my home, bringing ice cream to the children, talking to the children," Elkins said. "He's a great person, a very intelligent man."

CANDIDATE JOE CORNELIUS

Cornelius was elected interim mayor by his fellow council members shortly after Robertson's death. He has served two districts in Minden as a councilman and has around 20 years of experience in the local political field. However, his years of service have been somewhat tarnished. Cornelius was charged with DWI and aggravated assault in 2012. He underwent anger management to have the assault charges dropped but pled guilty to DWI Cornelius was also charged with DWI in 2007. Those are moments he wishes to leave in the past.

"That's in the past. We're looking into the future now," Cornelius said. "That happened in the past. Let it stay in the past. Let's move this city ahead. I'm capable. I have a good staff here."

Moving the city ahead requires additional funds. Cornelius hopes to generate more tax revenue by encouraging development along Minden's I-20 service road, which runs between exits 47 and 49. A new technical college was recently built along the road. Cornelius would like to see businesses that attract travelers there, as well.

"Sooner or later, we're going to start working on the service road where there'll be hotels, restaurants, things like that," Cornelius said. "Minden is a beautiful place. What I'd like to do is attract everything for that."  

New development along the service road will create jobs for the area, but Cornelius has a plan to bring more than service sector jobs. He wants to bring manufacturing jobs to the South Webster Industrial Complex, an industrial park all candidates have hopes for, and vacant factories around Minden. 

"What I'd like to do is attract some large firm here," Cornelius said. "If you want to build, that's fine too. I like that idea too, but we already have everything to start up here in Minden."

CANDIDATE WALTER "WOO'' MORGAN

Morgan is new to the political scene and has never held a public office. He's a local barber in Minden and has owned his business for around 20 years. Morgan says conversations with clients and being involved with his community have encouraged him to step onto the political stage.

"There's no incentive in entertainment in Minden," Morgan said, referring to his platform. "There's a lack of jobs which is because, recently in the last five years, we've had two or three jobs close down."

Those are issues Morgan hopes to resolve if he becomes mayor. He hopes to attract a movie theater to the town. He also wants to bring more tournaments, like for softball or baseball, to the local recreation park. Morgan says more leisure activities help retain and grow the town's population.

"It's a good place to call home. It's just that the younger generations don't have any incentives to stay in Minden," Morgan said. "I'm trying to keep the younger generation. So, they'll say that Minden can be my home and not move away."

Entertainment isn't the only thing that'll keep Minden's younger generation home. They need jobs, and Morgan hopes to work with the Webster Parish Chamber of Commerce to attract more companies to the industrial complex However, Morgan doesn't just want job creation to focus on heavy industry. He sees a need for more development downtown.

"There's a need for manufacturing jobs but also small businesses," Morgan said. "We have a lot of vacant business buildings in Minden. We'd try to draw someone to show them we have the capacity of having nice buildings for rent or renovation."

CANDIDATE TOMMY DAVIS

Kelly, the antique shop employee, may find Morgan's stance on jobs agreeable. Her shop is located in the heart of downtown Minden, which is full of properties where Morgan would like other small businesses to locate. However, Tommy Davis has secured her vote. She believes he will bring what Minden needs. The candidate has been on the town council for seven years and has owned a local business for 40 years. He hopes further develop the industrial complex

"We need industrial jobs to come in here," Davis said. "When we get those jobs in here, then people will have money to spend. That way, you have other things that follow: restaurants, entertainment."

Davis says several improvements need to take place at the south industrial complex before any job growth can happen there. He points out more basic infrastructure, like water and sewage, need to be developed. A road to access all of the park's land is needed, too.

"We have 200 acres that are available down there, but we need to be able to get to that acreage to development it," Davis said. "That's across the railroad tracks, so we need to put in a railroad crossing down there."

Davis also hopes to improve Minden's public infrastructure if elected. He points out the town's electrical grid needs an extra connection SWEPCO power sources. He believes there's concern for the community water supply. Davis claims it needs to be expanded.

"We have plenty of water, but we don't have a lot of storage capacity," Davis said. "So, we need to do that."

The Oct. 19 election falls on a Saturday. Polls open at seven that morning and close at eight that night. Early voting concludes Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Webster Registrar of Voters Office within the parish courthouse. Voting hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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