GRETNA, La. (WGNO) – Eighteen-year-old William Boartfield is ready for some fun after high school.
But not the beer-chugging, late-night college parties fun. Boartfield, a senior at New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy and co-chairman of the Louisiana Green Party, is running for mayor of his hometown.
He is the only person challenging incumbent Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant, a Democrat who took office in 2013.
“I believe the mayor has the best intentions, I just believe that it hasn’t been faithfully executed over her term,” Boartfield said. “I have a lot of respect for her, but I think there are things we could do better.”
Born and raised in Gretna, Boartfield said he has always been fascinated by politics, but it wasn’t until the 2016 presidential election that he “decided to get heavily involved.”
For Boartfield, the brutal election cycle is what drew him to a third party.
“Bernie Sanders was a big influence on my political upcoming,” he said.
The biggest issue in Gretna right now, according to Boartfield, is that Gretna has been called “the arrest capital of the United States.” He cites a recent article from Fusion that says in 2013, “the Gretna police department made 6,566 adult arrests, or a little more than one for every three of Gretna’s roughly 18,000 residents (although arrests include non-residents).”
“They use it as a cash cow,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. We can’t rely on money where we have to go out and give so many tickets. You’re using your citizens as money signs.”
Other issues on Boartfield’s radar are protecting small businesses and fostering growth outside the Gretna historical district and along the Riverfront.
“Inside (the historical district), business is flourishing, but outside they’re struggling on double taxes and strict regulations,” he said.
Boartfield sounds confident when he talks about the race. He said even though his parents aren’t political people, they’re very proud. And his friends, they’re “ecstatic.”
“Either way, it’s history,” he said. “If I’m able to pull of this victory, it will be historic to be one of the youngest mayors in this country’s history.”
The election will be held March 25.