Some Oakdale residents file recall petition against mayor

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 3:25 PM CST
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Oakdale, LA (KPLC) - Some Oakdale residents are taking matters into their own hands. Community members filed a recall petition against Oakdale Mayor Gene Paul after an audit investigation alleged the city clerk stole nearly a million dollars over several years.

Oakdale residents said this petition is not just about Mayor Gene Paul, it’s about the future of Oakdale.

“When you look at a town of like Oakdale and you see it’s obvious there’s not a lot of money anyway, we can’t afford to lose $900,000, $800,000, you know,” Bridget Perkins said. “We can’t afford to lose that. So, you know, that upset me, because this is the town I live in.”

Failure to perform sworn duties and political retaliation: that’s what Perkins said is her reason for filing the recall petition against the mayor.

“I just don’t think that he’s the one to take us out to the recovery since he was the one that brought us there,” Perkins said.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, the petition must have signatures from at least 33 1/3% of registered voters in the city - meaning the committee will need to get over 900 hand-written signatures.

“In 24 hours, we had about 125 signatures,” Perkins said.

If the required amount of signatures are collected and verified, the governor will then have 15 days to issue a recall election.

Councilman Jeremy Smith said this is uncharted territory for the city, and he understands the community’s frustrations.

“And, you know, that calls for action. So, I understand. I hear the frustrations of our citizens,” Smith said. “And I can’t speak for the mayor or any other council member, but I can speak for myself. I’m going to do everything I can to instill confidence, professionalism and integrity moving forward.”

Our team reached out to the mayor, and in a statement he said:

“I take this recall petition very seriously and I understand in this situation the citizens of Oakdale have been let down and are looking for someone to blame. Although, I have not done anything legally wrong, it is disheartening that it happened under my administration. As Mayor of a municipality, I am required to hire a city clerk and an auditor to handle the finances of our city, which I did. With that being said, I relied on those people to have the city’s best interest and fulfill their duties over finances. Moving forward I will continue to work hard for this city, as I have the last 9 years. We have made so many positive improvements to Oakdale and will continue to do that, just since Hurricane Laura the city has received 11.5 million dollars in grants & other funds for current and upcoming projects; which include the digital water meters that have already been installed, as well as upgrades to the outdated water wells, water ground storage and several lift stations. We are currently upgrading our computer software and are looking forward to renovating city hall with help from our state senator and representative. We hope to continue to move forward and focus on the positive things happening in Oakdale.”

Statement from Oakdale Mayor Gene Paul

Residents have 180 days to obtain the number of signatures needed once the petition has been filed through the Secretary of State’s Office.

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