Maringouin has slate of contested elections

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

A head-to head contest between two-term incumbent John F. Overton Sr. and long-time Alderman Samuel C. “Sammy” Collura for the mayor's post tops the slate of elections in the Town of Maringouin Saturday.

Iberville Sheriff's Detective Hosea K. Anderson Sr., who served the town briefly as police chief, is challenging incumbent Chief John E. Simien to get the job back. The face-off between the two men four years ago was decided in Simien's favor by a four-vote margin.

Eleven candidates, including three incumbents, are competing for the five seats on the town's Board of Aldermen. A run-off election, if required, will be scheduled at the November 2 general election.

Mayor's race

Collura, 62, who has served for 16 of the past 20 years as an alderman and is seeking a higher office for the first time, said his primary goal is to “make the Town of Maringouin a place where people will want to come to work, live and raise their families.”

The retired bank administrator is a lifelong Iberville Parish resident who grew up in Plaquemine. He moved to Maringouin in 1973 to teach at Shady Grove High Grove High School and made it his home even after he left teaching for a bank manager's job at the Bank of Maringouin. He said he would like to see it returned to the “active and vibrant community” it was when he moved there.

“It can and will be vibrant once again,” Collura said in a letter to voters. “What Maringouin needs is new leadership – a governing body that is willing to stand up and meet the challenges and needs of our modern world.”

Collura said he wants to pursue state and federal grants to bring industry and jobs to the area and to work with state and federal officials to improve the quality of life. He promised to have an “open door” policy of being available to constituents, to provide “good and honest leadership” and to work with law enforcement at all levels to provide safety for all residents.

A 1967 graduate of Plaquemine High School, he holds a B.S. degree in business administration, a B.S. degree in business education and a master's of education degree from LSU.

Collura has been a member of the Maringouin Lions Club since 1979, serving as president, secretary and treasurer and of the Knights of Columbus since 2006. He also is a member of the Louisiana Municipal Association and the National League of Cities.

An ordained Catholic deacon for the Diocese of Baton Rouge since 2002, he currently serves at St. John the Baptist Church of Brusly.

He is married to Susan Lewis Collura, and is the father of four and grandfather of nine.

Overton, 46, seeking his third term as mayor, points to a list of accomplishments -- including most recently the announcement of a $25 million water bottling and recycling facility expected to bring more than 100 jobs to the Maringouin area – and outlines his plans for a new term.

He said he started by improving utilities, service departments and other “internal” operations, but now wants to move on to business development, community beautification and address safety concerns.

Overton said he is planning to build an emergency operating center  and to work with Livonia to prepare for any train derailment that might occur in connection with Union Pacific's “roundhouse” operation near the two towns.

“We've got all our eyes open with that train traffic coming through the town and the train track dividing the town,” he said. “...We hope no derailment ever happens, but you never know. We're trying to get educated on everything and be prepared for the worst thing that can happen.”

Thanks to federal recovery money after Hurricane Gustav, the town has been able to buy a $700,000 pumper truck for its fire department and put in generators for water and sewer systems, as well as for town hall and the police department.

“We're trying to upgrade everything and trying to be prepared,” Overton said.

He hopes the upgrades for the fire department, including the addition of fire hydrants, will result in lower insurance rates after the next evaluation a few months from now.

Overton said he also wants to build a walking trail to promote healthful activities, continue to attract new business and job opportunities, and to provide new playground equipment, an upgrade for an old basketball court and a new tennis court at the local park.

“We've come a long way these eight years I've been mayor,” he said. “Through all these hard economic times, we've been doing pretty good. Closing our school put a damper on the community. That's the only thing that really hurt...You just have to keep pressing on for better things.”

Overton is a 1982 graduate of Shady Grove High School. He studied agri-business at the University of Southwestern Louisiana.

A police juror for three years, he is a supervisor with the Iberville Parish Drainage Department.

He is a member of the Farm Bureau, Shiloh United Methodist Church, the Maringouin Volunteer Fire Department, the National League of Cities and the Louisiana Municipal Association.

He and his wife, Cynthia Gilbert Overton, are the parents of three.

Police Chief's Contest

Anderson, 39, is a detective with the Iberville Sheriff's Office, where he has worked since 1994. He served as a lieutenant in the Maringouin Police Department from 1991-94, and as police chief form 2005-07.

His goals for the office include bring professionalism and experience to the department, restoring confidence in it and “restoring a sense of safety in the community.”

Anderson attended Southern University, the LSU Police Academy and the LSU Juvenile Institute.

He is a member of the Mt. Gideon Baptist Church and the Louisiana Sheriff's Association.

Anderson is the father of three.

Simien, 60, a lifelong Iberville Parish resident, said that during his first term he has raised the standard of the police department, including opening a new police station named for the late Chief Stanley Lockman, more training for officers and the acquisition of two new, fully equipped police units.

“The Town of Maringouin has never had two new units,” he said. “Everything we've ever had has been hand me downs.”

Simien said he personally started a scholarship fund to help “students with potential” attend college or a trade school, and raised funds to support the now defunct North Iberville Academy after North Iberville High School was closed.

Board of Aldermen

Of the eleven candidates for the board, only one provided the newspaper with information.

Auto sales consultant Clarence “D-Dot” Wiley, 28, is making his first run for public office.

“I would like to increase positive entertainment available to our youth,” he said. “I would also like to make continuous education courses available in Maringouin for those who cannot travel. I would also like to make the community a safer, better place to live, by getting more people involved in the community.”

He said further he would like to work with employment agencies to increase local employment.

Wiley is a 2001 graduate of North Iberville High School. He attended the Coastal Driving Academy and Louisiana Technical College, and holds a certificate in submarine welding.

He is a member of the Future Leaders of the World and Mt. Gideon Baptist Church. From 2002-05, he was an Iberville Parks and Recreation District's Little League Baseball and Basketball coach.

The other 10 candidates on the ballot are incumbent Kirkland Anderson Sr., John E. Carriere, Dedric Davenport, incumbent Edward James Jr., Jeaneen H. Northern, Lester Pryer Jr., Garrick Scott, Guy Thomas Jr., incumbent Demi Vorise and Sam W. Watson.

All the Maringouin candidates are listed as Democrats, except for Wiley, who is listed as a “no party” candidate.