ST. MARTINVILLE — St. Martin Parish residents who wish to vote in the city’s upcoming mayoral and City Council election must register to vote with the St. Martin Parish Registrar of Voters by Wednesday.
The election, to be held March 27, will determine the next mayor of St. Martinville and who will hold the District 3, District 4 and District 5 City Council seats.
Incumbent Mayor Thomas Nelson is being challenged by Melinda “Mel” Mitchell. Mitchell is listed on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Web site as a Democrat, but the phone number listed with her name on the Web site is not a working phone number.
Mitchell’s listed phone number in the phone book differs from the number registered with the secretary of state. That number is also not a working phone number.
Nelson, who served for 26 years on the St. Martin Parish Police Jury and St. Martin Parish Council, is finishing his first term as St. Martinville mayor. A registered Democrat, Nelson said he is seeking re-election so he and the council can continue significant projects, including road improvements for 98 percent of the city, acquiring property for an RV park and flea market and settling an “inherited” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lawsuit that resulted in a new sewerage plant and treatment pond for the city and a payment of $50,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Other cities have had to pay as much as $500,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency in settlements, Nelson said.
Nelson said when he took office, the city could not survive on what revenue it was taking in and the amount of money in its coffers. A one-cent sales tax approved by almost 80 percent of voters allowed the city to reorganize the St. Martinville Police Department and add more officers at better salaries, and $3 million in bonds has helped the city with improvement projects.
“We have a lot of great stuff going on with the city,” Nelson said. “I want to continue with the improvements we’ve started and keep moving St. Martinville forward.”
District 1 City Councilman Mike Fuselier and District 2 City Councilman Craig Prosper will resume their positions on the council for the next term unopposed.
Dumas Charles, a Democrat, is running against incumbent District 3 City Councilman Dennis Paul Williams, a local artist serving his first term on the City Council. Williams’ party affiliation is listed as other on the Secretary of State’s Web site.
Williams said he is seeking re-election because he wants to continue the progress the mayor and City Council have implemented, such as street improvements in all districts, a better working relationship with the St. Martinville Police Department and police chief and gains in the local tourism industry.
“I don’t know anything about politics,” he said. “I’m trying to work on better communication. I’m not a politician. I’m about relationships. I just want to be a part of the change.”
Incumbent District 4 Councilman Ronald Charles, a Democrat, is being challenged by Judy “Gillette” Rochon, also a Democrat.
The number listed for Rochon on the Secretary of State’s Web site is not a working phone number. There is no listing for Rochon in St. Martinville in the phone book.
Charles did not return a call made for comment.
Incumbent District 5 Councilman Arthur Champ has two challengers in his bid for re-election. Champ, a Democrat finishing his first term on the City Council, is running against Sandra “Sue Mel” Batiste, a Democrat, and Romanus “Ike” Robertson, a former city councilman whose party affiliation is listed as other, according to the Secretary of State’s Web site.
Champ, who is retired from a company with the Port of Iberia, said he wants another term on the council because he has enjoyed being a “full-time” councilman who interacts with residents in his district every day. He has received more than 300 phone calls from constituents since he began his term more than three years ago, he said.
“And I’ve answered all of them by either a phone call or a visit to their home,” he said.
“When I first ran for council, I told them I’d be a full-time councilman. I’ve kept that promise. I’ve enjoyed serving my district. People in my district know me and know where to find my green truck or find me picking up branches and other things in our district.”
Champ said he and Nelson have held community meetings in his district every three months since he won his first term, meetings that bring in various community leaders to discuss issues with residents.
Like Williams, Champ said the city nearing completion of its street overlay project that will overlay 98 percent of asphalt streets in the city has been a significant accomplishment for the current council and mayor.
Other contributions to the city include the purchase of property to be converted to a community center or tourist attraction and finding a business, Evangeline Downs, to move into the old Wal-Mart building.
Batiste and Robertson did not return calls for comment.