Rosedale elections: Voters to decide police chief, alderman

Deidre Cruse

Rosedale Police Chief Mike Sparks is facing opposition from Mark James, a truck driver who says he lost everything after he was falsely accused in a serious case. Voters will decide the case at the polls Saturday.

Rosedale voters also will elect a new alderman from Division C, where Dana Nereaux Alexander and Jeffery Hill are vying for the post.

Incumbent Mayor Lawrence “Football” Badeaux, District A Alderman Kevin Gantt and District B Alderman Randel “Panco” Badeaux all won re-election without opposition.

Both the candidates for police chief describe a rough path to this election.

James said the Iberville Sheriff’s Office arrested him on an aggravated rape charge, although the office never conducted an investigation that would have revealed his accuser as a disturbed young woman who had accused numerous others, including a six-year-old boy, of the same charge.

“I always wanted to be a police officer, and this just turned up a fire on me,” he said.

By the time an Iberville Parish grand jury issued a no true bill in the case, James said he had spent eight days in jail, paid a $180,000 bond, stayed on house arrest and unable to work for six months.

“I lost everything I had,” the candidate charged. “I lost my job because of this. The current chief and another man came and arrested me.”

“It’s unfair the way they treated me,” James said. “The current chief said it was not his fault.”

James said he has never worked in law enforcement, but has taken courses on the Internet and has many friends in law enforcement who have promised to help him.

“I have 25 years’ experience in law enforcement,” said Sparks, who is an Iberville Sheriff’s deputy in addition to running the part-time Rosedale Police Department. “I like to keep up with the continuing education in law enforcement. I have spent my entire adult career educating and training and on on-the-job training. I have done everything I can to educate myself. You have to now. Things change so much.”

Sparks is running for a second consecutive term as police chief. Earlier, he served two consecutive terms in the post.

During his latest term, Sparks said, he broke his neck in five places in a horseback accident.

“I had to make a decision back then to take a medical disability or rehabilitate,” he said. “Because I love my job so much, I came back.”

Then, just after Hurricane Gustav, Sparks suffered a heart attack.

“I’m back now about 100 percent,” the incumbent chief said. “I didn’t get a chance to do a lot of the things I wanted to do because of health and accidents, but I will get it done this four years.”

He said he recently got the Board of Aldermen to pass new ordinances that would allow the local department to enforce a list of  traffic violations. Before, Rosedale officers could only enforce speeding laws, Sparks said.

During a new term, he said he would like to turn the job into a full-time job.