Here's a look at the background and platform for the two candidates in the upcoming election.

The runoff race for the District 1 seat on the Iberville Parish Council – the only local item on the Nov. 16 ballot – pits two candidates with a similar public service background and even the same last name.

Outside of those similarities, Ernest "Bayboy" Allen and Shalonda Allen have different visions for District 1, which covers the area from White Castle north to Dorseyville.

The two candidates – who are not related – will vie for the seat in a runoff race Saturday, Nov. 16. Councilman Warren "T-Notchie" Taylor, who currently occupies the council seat, will step down at the end of the current term after 24 years.

Shalanda Allen emerged the top vote-getter in the Oct. 12 primary, but Ernest Allen trailed by only 38 votes in the three-person race. The lack of a 50.1 percent lead for Shalanda Allen sent the race into the runoff.

Neither candidate lacks public service experience. Both served on the White Castle Town Council, but not at the same time.

Here's a look at the background and platform for the two candidates in the upcoming election.

SHALONDA ALLEN

Shalanda Allen – the former Shalanda Lewis – served four years on the Board of Aldermen for the town council in White Castle, where she has lived her entire life.

Aside from her background in municipal government, Allen is an ordained minister and member of the City of Refuge.

The ministerial work has involved mentorship programs for area youth, in hopes she can guide them to become community leaders down the line.

She credits a town-sponsored summer reading program for her decision to run for public office.

Public service is the only reason Allen ran for office.

"I'm not a politician," she said. "My heart is for the community and the people, and that's why I ran for office."

The term on the Town Council gave Allen the opportunity to work with the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, and she worked on grant acquisition for White Castle.

The grants made possible several projects for the town, including a splash pad for a local park, economic development projects and additional lighting along La. 1.

She operates two businesses – a gift shop and a snowball stand.

"I want to see this community grow," Allen said. "I've been here my entire life. I still work with the council, and I don't plan on leaving White Castle."

She intends to take a spirit of teamwork to the parish level if voters elect her to represent District 1.

Allen wants to take an active role in projects to improve infrastructure not only throughout White Castle, but the entire parish.

"Here in White Castle, you'll sometimes sit at a red light for ten minutes, and it's that way all over the parish," she said.

"Infrastructure is a big problem all over the parish."

She plans to help in the push for a Mississippi River Bridge in Iberville Parish if voters elect her to the council.

Allen also wants to see increased promotion of the tourist attractions throughout Iberville Parish.

Voters must play a role if they want to see her put her platform in place.

"I just want everyone to get out and vote," she said. "It's very important, and they know my platform and that I'm progression.

"It's time to move District 1 forward," Allen said. "We can't afford to go backwards."

ERNEST "BAYBOY" ALLEN

Ernest Allen, a lifelong resident of White Castle, served nine years on the Town Council. He is a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, and a retiree from the petrochemical industry.

He also considers a new Mississippi River Bridge necessary for the traffic congestion throughout the area.

In addition, he sees problems in his district that also affect many other areas in Iberville Parish.

"We need improvements to the drainage in our district, and better housing," he said.

"That's sorely needed in White Castle, and in most of our parish."

Iberville Parish needs to put more emphasis on residential and economic growth, both of which have changed the face of neighboring West Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes, he said.

"Our parish is not growing the way it's supposed to," Ernest Allen said. "We need to take steps to make Iberville Parish a more desirable place to live.

"The jobs are here, and the opportunities are here," he said. "A lot of kids get great education in our school system, but then move elsewhere as soon as they graduate, and I'd like to see that change."

Iberville Parish Council members have some of the elements already in place, including a deep desire to work together for the betterment of their respective districts.

He said the parish needs to capitalize on what is already in place and build upon that progress.

"We need to keep that up and keep trying to improve," Ernest Allen said. "The majority of people in the Iberville Parish plants are coming from the other side of the river to come to work.

"We have a lot of young people who have gotten good educations and now have great jobs at the plants throughout our parish," he said. "We have good public safety and good public school system, but it would be nice to see them live here rather than just come here to draw a check."

Any decision that helps move the parish forward will require one important element, he said.

"We’re going to need to be on the same page, which means this is all about progress," Ernest Allen said. "We have to look out for our districts, of course, but we also have to look out for the parish as a whole."