SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Voters will have one opportunity to hear both candidates in the race for Shreveport mayor present their vision for the city at a debate next Wednesday at LSU Shreveport.

The voter turnout for this year’s race was considerably lower than in 2018, with a little more than 51,000 people cast their vote in the November 8 primary compared to over 60,000 in 2018.

Tom Arceneaux made the runoff with less than 30% of the vote, while his runoff opponent, Senator Greg Tarver, advanced to the December ballot with less than 25% of the vote.

Both candidates have expressed a love for Shreveport and a desire to see it move forward and become a draw for young professionals who frequently leave for better opportunities.

How each candidate plans to make that dream come true is unclear.

During the campaign, Tarver’s advertisements showed a bleak outlook for a crime-ridden city whose best and brightest don’t return because of the lack of opportunity. His campaign website highlights crime reduction, education, economic development, community reinvestment, infrastructure, improving quality of life, and effective stewardship of tax dollars as areas of focus for a Tarver administration.

Tarver boasts a lifetime of public service from his time on the Caddo Parish Police Jury and Shreveport City Council to years spent in the Louisiana State Senate. During that lifetime of public service, Tarver had championed colleges in the area, specifically LSUS, and ensured state resources trickled up to NWLA. It includes an indictment and subsequent acquittal on conspiracy charges related to former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards’s federal racketeering conviction.

Attorney and former Shreveport Councilman for District C Tom Arceneaux announced his candidacy in February, saying throughout the campaign that Shreveport lacked mature leadership, a gap he believed he was more than qualified to step in and fill.

Arceneaux’s campaign website lists public safety, blight, youth, public finance, economic development, and “development” as priorities under his administration. He notes a 10% population decline over 40 years from 1980-2020.

Shreveport had not elected a Republican to lead city hall since 1994 when Robert “Bo” Williams was elected. Williams was a one-term mayor, and Shreveport has had a democrat leader since 1998.

Considering history, it would be quite a feat for Arceneaux to walk away with a victory on December 10. A win for a republican seems less likely, considering Tarver has the money and name recognition; he also has never lost a race. But if voter turnout is as slight on December 10 as it was on November 8, maybe the republican path to victory is through voter apathy.

Voters must decide which of these two men best represents the Shreveport they want to live in.

Which candidate can reach the city’s disenfranchised youth who are contributing to crime statistics? Can Tom Arceneaux or Senator Greg Tarver move Shreveport into a position where citizens earn higher wages through quality employment? Who is best suited to deal with litter and blight? Which candidate can energize young people about their city’s future and what it offers? What about the potholes?

There are many questions that citizens will have to ask themselves as they walk into voting booths in December.

Senator Greg Tarver and Tom Arceneaux will appear on stage together on November 16 at 7 p.m. on the campus of LSUS. Members of local media outlets will serve as panelists asking questions of the candidates. The debate will be streamed live on with pre and post-debate analysis.