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Mayor race in St. Gabriel a challenge for candidates

4 years ago March 31, 2011 Mar 31, 2011 Thursday, March 31 2011 Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:21:56 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ashley Rodrigue

ST. GABRIEL-  Two candidates are feuding over campaign rallies and who can be the best mayor for St. Gabriel.

Current Mayor George Grace is running for re-election against Lionel Johnson, Jr.

Grace says he wants to keep turning cow pastures into progress like the community center.  Johnson says he wants progress to be something people can actually use, like more restaurants.

But getting those messages out to voters has been muddied by battles over public property and their use for political rallies and forums, that have even involved legal questions.

"Sometimes we are confronted with the challenge of having to answer scare tactics and false allegations and things of that nature," said Johnson.

Grace said, "I addressed my concerns with the chief of police and of course he made it an issue that I was trying to be a dictator and not letting people have freedom of speech, but it had nothing to do with that."

Other legal issues have plagued the candidates.  Grace, is facing federal charges connected to "Operation Blighted Officials," a fake garbage-can cleaning scheme set up by the FBI.  His trial is not until next year.

Grace said, "It has become very evident through this race that the people of St. Gabriel are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty."

"We regret that he is in that situation and we'll see what happens in January," said Johnson, "That's something we're not looking to make an issue."

The issues of St. Gabriel are what both candidates hope voters take to the polls.

Votes can be cast until 8 p.m. on Saturday.

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