Leo Deslatte

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Clifford Leo Deslatte, Sr.

In office
July 1, 1998 – December 1999
Preceded by Fred Baden
Succeeded by Clarence R. Fields

Born November 5, 1946
Place of birth missing
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dianne Hyde Deslatte
Children Clifford "Cliff" Deslatte, Jr.

Wesley Hyde Deslatte

Alma mater Pineville High School

College missing

Occupation Businessman

Clifford Leo Deslatte, Sr., known as Leo Deslatte (born November 5, 1946),[1][2] is a Republican computer businessman who served for a year and a half, from July 1998 to December 1999, as the mayor of Pineville, Louisiana. His brief tenure was sandwiched between the long-term Democratic mayors, Fred Baden and Clarence R. Fields.

Background

Deslatte is the older of two sons of Clifford Gabriel "Frenchy" Deslatte (1916-2006) and the former Hesta Lee Reynolds (1923-2007), known as "Missy" Deslatte, a native of Ruby in Rapides Parish. Missy Deslatte was a daughter of David and Ann Gray Reynolds, a member of the Pineville Park Baptist Church, and worked as a cottage supervisor at Pinecrest State School in Pineville. Clifford and Hesta Deslatte are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Ball, north of Pineville.[3]

Leo Deslatte is married to the former Dianne Hyde (born February 1946).[4] The couple has two sons.[3][5] Prior to his election as mayor in the spring of 1998; Deslatte won out-of-town recognition at the age of sixteen playing football for Pineville High School.[6]

Mayoral tenure

Unionization dispute

Just prior to his leaving office after twenty-eight years, the lame duck Mayor Baden, without notification of three incoming city council members, met with a representative of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and committed to a collective bargaining agreement between the union and city employees which he wanted formulated before he left office. Never before had Baden encouraged union activity. This time he did so during business hours at City Hall. His actions led Mayor-elect Deslatte and three new city council members, Joe Bishop (later the president of the Rapides Parish Police Jury), Carol Jeukens Cunningham, and Clarence Fields, to retain Pineville attorney Jimmy Faircloth, later known as the executive counsel to then Governor Bobby Jindal, to file in the Louisiana 9th Judicial District Court in Alexandria a petition for a temporary restraining order to stop Baden. During legal proceedings, the city was represented by Alexandria attorney Dee D. Drell, later and current United States District Court judge for the Western District of Louisiana. Baden's attorney was Christopher J. Roy, Sr., whose son, Jacques Roy, was elected in 2006 as the mayor of Alexandria. The court ordered that Baden and the three defeated city council members, Charles O'Banion, George E. Hearn, and Lemon Coleman, Jr.,[7] halt their efforts to unionize city employees.[8]

Unseating Fred Baden

In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on April 4, 1998, the seven-term incumbent, Fred Baden, led the four-candidate field with 1,805 votes (44 percent). Republican Deslatte trailed with 1,243 ballots (31 percent). A second Democrat, Barbara B. Gypin, polled 35 votes (1 percent), and a "No Party" candidate, Randall Bryan "Randy" Tannehill, received a critical 977 votes (24 percent).[9] The Deslatte-Baden campaign was bitterly contested. In the general election showdown on May 2, Deslatte prevailed with 2,304 votes (53 percent) to Baden's 2,062 (47 percent).[10]

Enter Dan Kyle and Richard Ieyoub

Mayor Deslatte invited the Louisiana legislative auditor, Dan Kyle, a Republican, to inspect Pineville's municipal books. Kyle's office criticized the Baden administration for violations ranging from the illegal donation of thirty-one vehicles to other governmental entities as well as special leave benefits for Baden's second wife, Roxan Babb Baden (born March 1950), when she became an employee in her husband's office.[11]

Thereafter, the office of then state Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, a Democrat, cleared Baden of any wrongdoing, but auditor Kyle claimed that Ieyoub had ignored critical evidence that would have found Baden guilty of malfeasance in office. However, Ieyoub reported that a lengthy investigation concluded "there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution." Baden said at the time that he had no doubt that he would be cleared of the allegations: "I felt all along that I would be cleared of these allegations ... I never did anything wrong. We never took anything from the city that we didn't earn."[11]

Resignation

Unable to work with the city council, Deslatte resigned as mayor after less than two years into his term. He said that the political pressure was too much to make the job worth keeping. The council then appointed African-American council member Clarence Fields as interim mayor.[12] The first black mayor of Pineville, a once segregated city, Fields was then elected to a partial term in 2000, when he defeated former city council member George Earl Hearn (1926-2010), a psychology professor at Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville.[13] Baden first announced that he would oppose Fields for the partial term in 2000 but subsequently withdrew from consideration, Fields thereafter won a full term in 2002, and he was reelected without opposition in 2006, 2010, and 2014.[14] Deslatte had the shortest tenure as mayor since Mike Aaron from 1912 to 1913.[15]

References

  1. Clifford Deslatte, November 1946. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on July 18, 2015.
  2. Clifford Deslatte. Mylife.com. Retrieved on September 18, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hesta Lee Reynolds "Missy" Deslatte. findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 18, 2015.
  4. Dianne Deslatte, February 1946. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on July 18, 2015.
  5. Rapides Parish Civil Lawsuits. The Alexandria Town Talk]' (June 5, 2010). Retrieved on July 18, 2015.
  6. Leesville puts two on squad. Lake Charles American-Press (December 13, 1962). Retrieved on July 18, 2015.
  7. Democrat Lemon "Billy" Coleman, Jr. (1935-2015), an educator, was the first African-American to have served on the Pineville City Council since Reconstruction. Coleman studied at the historically black Grambling State University in Grambling in Lincoln Parish and Southern University in Baton Rouge. First elected in 1974, he unseated in a majority white district the incumbent Willie George Golemon (1899-1975), who died the following year. Golemon's daughter, Faye Christine Thrasher (1922-1982), and her second husband, Donald L. Thrasher (1930-2009), were active in veterans activities in the Alexandria area.
  8. Pineville Mayor-elect Leo Deslatte et al vs Mayor Fred Baden et al. scribd.com (1998). Retrieved on July 18, 2015.
  9. Election Results. Louisiana Secretary of State (April 4, 1998). Retrieved on July 18, 2015.
  10. Election Results. Louisiana Secretary of State (May 2, 1998). Retrieved on July 18, 2015.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Bret H. McCormick, "7-term Pineville Mayor Fred Baden remembered for 'big heart'", December 18, 2009. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on December 18, 2009.
  12. The Alexandria Town Talk, December 10, 1999.
  13. Election Results. Louisiana Secretary of State (October 7, 2000). Retrieved on July 17, 2015.
  14. Jeff Matthews (February 15, 2015). Pineville Mayor Fields once again re-elected without opposition. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on July 17, 2015.
  15. Karen Dauzat, List of Pineville Mayors since 1867, Pineville City Hall