St. Martin

Apr 9, 2014 7:26 PM by Akeam Ashford

Candidates Tackle Important Issues Facing St. Martinville

Voters in St. Martinville will head to the polls next month to decide the city's next mayor.

During last weekend's election, current mayor Thomas Nelson received 45 percent of the vote. His opponent, Melinda Narcisse Mitchell had 31 percent, sending Nelson and Mitchell into a runoff election.The third candidate had 24 percent.

This isn't the first time democrats Nelson and Mitchell have faced off. In 2010, Mitchell challenged Nelson getting 40 percent of the vote, while Nelson got 60 percent.

Nelson says he isn't worried about the May 3 election.

"I don't believe it's going to be a hot contested race. I believe the race is going to be much easier than what some people think," Nelson said.

Mitchell said she's running again to bring more jobs to the city.

"We're getting a lot of our kids graduating college, and they're leaving because they can't find a good job here. I want to work with companies and citizen to find ways to bring more jobs to St. Martinville," Mitchell said.

Nelson said his opponent opponent wants to close the Acadian Memorial, the African-American Museum, and the Opera House.

"She wants to take those funds and put into recreation," Nelson said.

Mitchell denied this claim, saying she never said that.

"Why would I say that? In my candidacy, I'm trying to attract people to come here. Our museums and attractions are what make St. Martinville beautiful," Mitchell said.

"We don't get very much money from those, we get a majority of our revenue from tourism. As mayor, I've done everything to bring more money to the city," Nelson said.

When Wal-Mart closed its doors in 2008, the city lost roughly $400,000 in revenue.

Nelson said, anticipating the loss, the city passed a 1-cent sales tax in 2007 which generates roughly $740,000 a year, making up for the company's move.

"I hate to say this, but we're not on I-10, and we're not on the proposed I-49. If you pass on Highway 96 in the afternoon you can hardly come to St. Martinville. It's hard to get people here," Nelson said.

Mitchell said there are issues she's hearing from voters which has kept her in the race.

"When I knock on doors, citizens are constantly telling me about the issues, and change they want to see in St. Martinville. I think the citizens should be able to shop here, so that we can keep our money and revenue in our city," Mitchell said.

The runoff election will be Saturday, May 3.

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