Editor’s Note: This article is one of two that will preview the city of Grambling mayoral race. With the Nov. 8 elections approaching, candidates can contact the Lincoln Parish Journal for advertising rates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By T. Scott Boatright
Toby Bryan is a Grambling alderman that feels he’s the right man for Grambling.
Right there with Bryan is LeShaun “Yummy” Johnson, who feels new blood can pump up the city of Grambling’s government.
Both have entered the Grambling’s mayoral race, facing incumbent Edward Jones and former City Councilman Alvin Bradley.
Bryan says a lack of communication between the mayor and Grambling’s City Council fueled his desire to decide to run for mayor.
“I’ve seen so much, so much that isn’t right,” Bryan said. “There’s no communication. We ask, ‘Do you need some help?’, and we get no answer and then get thrown all up under the bus. It’s frustrating.
“We’re on the inside still looking in. It’s like being in a hotel foyer … but you’re stuck there. You don’t go inside to any kind of room. You’re outside looking in.”
Bryan said his plan for the city hasn’t wavered since he was first appointed to the Council in 2001 to fill the unexpired term of his mother, Margaret Bryan.
Bryan successfully ran for reelection in 2002 and 2006. In 2018 Bryan ran again and won, and over the past four years has also served as Grambling’s mayor pro tem.
“My platform has been the same since I ran (for City Council) in 2018,” Bryan said. “But we’ve been shut out. Nobody’s been able to work on their platform. My platform is infrastructure — water and sewage, and the fire department.”
“You can ride around the city and smell sewage,” Bryan said. “Probably on every block. It’s gotten so bad now to where sewage is running over. You can see it running up over the streets “
Grambling’s fire department and fire insurance rating is another of Bryan’s election platforms.
“We actually had the funding in hand with a company who came up here and talked a bunch of times,” Bryan said.
“I met the mayor of Simsport (Saturday night) at the Louisiana Municipal Association Conference —Leslie Draper. He was one of the first to do business with a company from Baton Rouge called Sustainability Partners about water meters. That’s the company who talked to Grambling. … Once those (Simsport) meters were put in within two months their water revenue increased by 57%.
Another of Bryan’s platform focuses is bettering the Grambling fire department, which he said also could be aided by that same Baton Rouge company.
“The guy told me all it would take is a one-page ademnum and we’ve got the funding for fire trucks. The city of Grambling cannot outright buy fire trucks because we don’t have a diesel mechanic on staff.
“So we would actually lease fire trucks from a company in south Louisiana called Passman’s EVT that finances municipalities that need help with some things. They’ve been up here as well. Leasing the fire trucks would actually benefit the city of Grambling more than trying to own a fire truck. We don’t have a diesel mechanic on staff and can’t afford to pay a diesel mechanic.”
Johnson has lived in Grambling since moving there as a youth and feels his strong point is the fact that other than running for City Council in 2018, he can bring a fresh point of view to make the city better for all.
“One thing I want to see is the water system being improved and if it falls on me, I want to see that though,” Johnson said. “Another focus of mine is the youth in our community. That’s afterschool program, parks and recreation — things of that nature. That’s something needed in Grambling. We don’t have that like Ruston does.”
Creating what he calls a real park for Grambling is another of Johnson’s focuses.
“We need a modernized park,” Johnson said. “One that can provide good clean, family fun. And yes, I have a soft spot for the youth. I’ve been working with them since I was 19. They’re what’s important. They’re our future.”
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