Monday, February 26, 2007

What the voters perceived as truth came at an inconvenient time

Al Gore’s now Oscar-winning little film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” carries a convenient title when one considers Saturday’s outcome in one local race for the state legislature.
District 4 voters decided a current office-holder (Shreveport City Council member Calvin Lester) didn’t need to replace a current office-holder (Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, who was term limited in Dist. 4 anyway), and it could be a couple of inconvenient truths which determined the outcome.
Preparing to square off in the runoff (set for next month) are Patrick Williams, who picked up the endorsement of The Times, and Larry Ferdinand. Both Williams and Ferdinand are experienced local officeholders, with Williams previously serving on the Caddo Commission and Ferdinand occupying a past seat on the city council.
Some “experts” are expressing only a hint of surprise that current councilman Lester finished third, and a distant third at that, in the District 4 contest. Williams latched onto more than 40 percent of the vote while Ferdinand finished in the mid-20s. Lester polled in the very low 20s, finishing just under 200 votes behind Ferdinand. For an incumbent city councilman entering his second term, that has to be a tremendous disappointment.
When filing deadline ended a couple of months ago, Lester was considered the odds-on favorite to garner at least a runoff spot. He had just been re-elected to a second term on the council, and his second win put aside memories of a cliff-hanging win in his first go ‘round. But the inconvenient truths which may have led to his rapid fall from favor may indicate that voters aren’t going to be as forgiving as in the past.
While District 4 voters were in the early stages of deciding on their candidate, word hit the press that Lester was facing severe discipline from the state bar association. According to reports, candidate/councilman Lester faces charges which could lead to a three-year suspension of his license to practice law in the state. That latest pronouncement came atop other brushes with ethics problems, many of which came to light as he sat in his council seat.
Word on the street just days before the election centered on charges which might be filed in the future, but nothing came to light publicly. Whisper campaigns, however, are a powerful small district tool, and a couple of District 4 residents said Lester’s star was falling at a critical time — the final 72 hours. The inconvenient truth...whatever the rumors may have been, the fact that Lester had widely publicized ethics problems only added fuel to the fire.
Another inconvenient truth: Lester’s first victory came with the assistance of white Republicans in his district. Although the numbers are not overwhelming, they proved to be enough. This time, however, his white voters went for the two frontrunners. In fact, one Republican letter in the district endorsed Ferdinand; another group of residents sporting an “R” on their registration card indicated Williams was their choice.
Inconvenient or not, while voters in the friendly confines of his council district may have been supportive, the truth is that Lester’s problems were perceived by his broader constituency in Legislative District 4 as more than they were willing to overlook.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people caught on to Calvin Lester. His ethics are nonexistent. He shouldn't be representing the city of Shreveport on the city level, much less our city at the state level.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Kevan Smith said...

Well, anonymous, your analysis is the same as Pat's, and you managed to say it in your first sentence.

11:30 PM  

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