Nisha Rathode (Editor)

Lo Walker

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Preceded by  George Dement
Nationality  American
Name  Lo Walker

Lo Walker Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker Sworn In For Third Term
Born  September 26, 1933 (age 82) Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA (1933-09-26)
Political party  Democrat-turned-Republican
Spouse(s)  Adele Marchena Walker (married c. 1962-2014, her death)
Children  Linda Walker Morse William Lance Walker (c. 1971-2011)
Alma mater  Louisiana Tech University Auburn University
Education  Louisiana Tech University, Fair Park Medical Careers Magnet High School, Auburn University

Lorenz James Walker, known as Lo Walker (born September 26, 1933), is the first Republican to serve as the mayor of Bossier City in northwestern Louisiana. First elected in 2005, he is the fifteenth person to hold the position since Ewald Max Hoyer was appointed by Governor Newton Blanchard in 1907, when Bossier City was a village.

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Background

A Shreveport native, Walker graduated in 1951 from Fair Park High School. In 1952, he enrolled at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, from which he graduated in 1956 as the "Outstanding Business School Graduate". Through Reserve Officer Training Corps at Louisiana Tech, Walker was commissioned an officer in the United States Air Force. He served for thirty years in the military, including two tours of duty during the Vietnam War at Bien Hoa and Nha Trang air bases. Walker retired in 1986 with the rank of colonel. He first considered himself a Bossier City resident as early as 1968, After mandatory military moves, including a stint in California, he returned permanently to Bossier City in 1980. While in the military, he received a Master of Business Administration degree in 1970 from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.

Walker was previously stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City. In his military career, he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, thirteen Air Medals, a Bronze Star, and the Meritorious Service Medal. He left the military to become Bossier City’s chief administrative officer under Mayor George Dement, his Democratic predecessor. Walker told The Shreveport Times that he approaches his job "as I've worked all my life. I learned at an early age to hold a certain work ethic and accountability, and I'm very fortunate in that regard to be able to look forward to each and every day."

Political life

In 1991, Walker made an unsuccessful race as a Democrat in the primary for the District 12 seat on the Bossier Parish Police Jury. The winner in a runoff contest, called the general election in Louisiana, was the late Eddy Shell, a Republican educator at Bossier Parish Community College.

Walker was elected mayor on April 2, 2005, by a huge margin in a low-turnout contest with the Democrat Anita A. Steadman, 3,793 votes (91.5 percent) to her 353 ballots (8.5 percent). George Dement won his fourth and final term as mayor in 2001 with 57.2 percent of the ballots cast. In 1989, when Dement was first elected mayor, Walker, then a Democrat, ran against him and finished with just under 17 percent of the ballots cast, barely above the total for the Republican candidate, David H. Broussard (1947-1998).

At the age of seventy-five in 2009, the self-described "workaholic" Walker, ran unopposed for a second term in the municipal elections held on April 4 in Bossier City, the largest city in Bossier Parish though not the parish seat. Bossier City is east of the Red River from Shreveport. "Of course, I'm pleased. To me, it's an indication that the majority of the population is happy" with the mayor and city council, Walker told The Shreveport Times on learning that he had procured no opposition for reelection.

Walker outlined his principal goals as follows:

  • Maintaining public safety, which the hiring of six new police dispatchers
  • Completing the Cyber Innovation Center, the $100 million hi-tech park under construction near Bossier Parish Community College
  • Expansion of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway along the Red River.
  • In 2011, Mayor Walker worked successfully to keep open the Louisiana Boardwalk shops and restaurants complex in downtown Bossier City. The company faced foreclosure from its bank after six years of operation. Walker was able to locate new management to take over the operation.

    Walker worked in 2010 and 2011 with local and state officials to obtain two compressed natural gas plants, which offer public access to alternative fuels.

    Walker and other local and state officials participated in 2012 with the entertainer Jimmy Buffett in a ground-breaking ceremony for the third Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, a $197 million resort casino in Bossier City. The name comes from "Margaritaville", a 1977 Buffet song. The singer performed early in his career in Bossier City. The project, which also entails a hotel and restaurant, claims that it will provide more than 1,200 jobs and $12 million in local tax revenues.

    In 2012, Mayor Walker confirmed that taxpayers in his city faced the loss of $6.7 million in damages to the U. L. Coleman Company, a real estate firm in Shreveport, in the settlement of a long-running legal dispute in state and federal court. Moreover, the city must expend $10.4 million in infrastructure improvements, the cost of a walkway over the Arthur Teague Parkway, and build a $1 million park between CenturyLink Center, the municipal arena, and the proposed "Walker Place" development project. Demographer and public policy analyst Elliott Stonecipher placed the total loss to the city, including legal fees, at nearly $25 million. Stonecipher said the losses are "100 percent the fault of the government those taxpayers have put in office and strongly supported."

    In December 2014, the city council once again rejected pay increases for municipal employees as Mayor Walker proposed. Columnist Jeffrey D. Sadow attributed the lack of funding for the raises to the recurring high costs associated with the operation of the CenturyLink Center, which opened in 2000. CenturyLink cost $1,500 per resident, or more than $55 million, nearly $20 million more than had been anticipated by city officials. Through 2013, the city spent $5 million more to operate the center. Minor league sports teams, unable to survive, abandoned the CenturyLink. In 2013 alone, the city transferred $750,000 into CenturyLink and still ran a deficit of $200,000. Those costs could have funded the pay raises. Sadow proposed that the city sell CenturyLink at a loss so that it not become a permanent white elephant on municipal expenditures.

    Despite such cost concerns, Walker noted that Bossier City was ranked by Business Week magazine in 2008 as "one of the best places in America to raise a child." Bossier City also ranks on the Forbes magazine Top 10 list for job opportunities.

    An advocate of highway expansion, Walker is the president of the Interstate 69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition. Some 1,600 miles will be added to I-69 over a period of years as funds become available to connect Laredo and Brownsville, Texas, with Indianapolis, Indiana. An approved corridor supported by Walker will connect Magnolia, Arkansas, to Haughton, Barksdale Air Force Base, the Port of Caddo/Bossier, and Stonewall, Louisiana, before connecting to Tenaha, Texas, and then heading south. Walker has sought to convince lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to provide designated funding for the highway project.

    Walker ran without opposition for mayor for his third term in 2013. Early in 2015, he announced that he will seek a fourth term as mayor in the April 2017 municipal election. Again, he will be unopposed in 2017.

    Each year in the second week of November, Walker and the mayor of Shreveport host the "Shreveport/Bossier City Mayors' Prayer Breakfast", patterned on the national event in Washington, D.C.

    On April 20, 2017, in their joint "State of Bossier" address, Walker and Bossier Parish Police Jury President Bob Brotherton called the growth of the city and parish "outstanding". With 69,000 in a 2015 study by Louisiana State University, Bossier City became the sixth largest in the state and the fastest growing one. Walker said that the city and the parish "work extremely close together, and our business and civic leaders and military make us an outstanding parish.” The parish grew at 19 percent; the city at 10 percent. According to the Bossier Economic Development Foundation, the city could potentially reach 80,000 by 2019. Ongoing projects contributing to growth include the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway (the north parkway extension named for former state representative and judge Walter O. Bigby), Shed Road construction, and the South Bossier redevelopment districts.

    Personal life

    On March 18, 2011, Walker's 39-year-old son, William Lance Walker, was found dead at his residence on Delhi Street in Bossier City. Walker and his wife, Adele Marchena Walker (August 20, 1939 – August 6, 2014), the daughter of Leopoldo and Josephina Marchena and a native of Madrid, Spain, have a surviving daughter, Linda Walker Morse, and two grandsons, Wesley and William Morse.

    Walker met Adele in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The couple married at Ford Park in Shreveport and were together for fifty-two years. He took care of her in the final years of her illness. Since Adele's death, Walker has been dating a widowed college sweetheart from his days at Louisiana Tech University, Connie Westergaard Cash, an artist who is three years his junior. The two indicate that marriage is likely. The courtship of the older couple was carried statewide as a human interest story by the Associated Press and The Washington Times.

    References

    Lo Walker Wikipedia


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