Carroll E. Lanier

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Carroll E. Lanier
Mayor of Alexandria, Louisiana, USA
In office
June 1977 – December 1982
Preceded by John K. Snyder
Succeeded by John K. Snyder
Alexandria Finance and Utilities Commissioner
In office
June 1969 – June 1973
Preceded by Leroy Wilson
Succeeded by Arnold Jack Rosenthal
Personal details
Born Carroll Edwin Lanier
(1926-11-05)November 5, 1926
Hamburg, Ashley County
Arkansas, USA
Died December 4, 2012(2012-12-04) (aged 86)
Alexandria, Louisiana
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Pineville, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Winifred C. "Wendy" Lanier
Children Brian Lanier (deceased)

Kathy Lanier Miller
Theresa Louise Lanier Massey
Steve Lanier
Six grandchildren

Alma mater Bolton High School
Occupation Electrical contractor
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Battles/wars World War II

Carroll Edwin Lanier (November 8, 1926 – December 4, 2012) was an American Democrat politician who served an extended term as mayor of Alexandria, Louisiana; Alexandria is the seat of Rapides Parish and the largest city in central Louisiana. Lanier served a 5.5-year term from June 1977 to December 1982 and became the first mayor under the current mayor-council form of municipal government, which in 1977 replaced the former three-member commission system. The initial term under the new charter was extended by a year-and-a-half to coincide with the regular 1982 elections.[1]

Background[edit]

Lanier was born to M. B. Lanier and the former Effie Sivals in Hamburg in Ashley County in southeastern Arkansas. He outlived his parents, a brother, and three sisters. The family relocated to Alexandria when Carroll was eleven years of age. Lanier joined the United States Navy during World War II prior to his graduation from Bolton High School in Alexandria. An electrical contractor, Lanier was in business with his brother in the company, Lanier Electric.[2][1]

From 1969 to 1973, he was the Alexandria finance and utilities commissioner, having been elected over the long-term incumbent, fellow Democrat Leroy Wilson (1905–1978).[1] In 1973, however, as consumer electric bills climbed, voters replaced Lanier with businessman and attorney Arnold Jack Rosenthal, a Democrat who had vowed to bring down the utility rates. Alexandria is one of some fourteen Louisiana cities in which the municipal government owns and operates the utility systems. The cities derive a portion of their operations funds from profit in the sale of utilities. Rosenthal was unable to enact major reductions because of steady increases in the fuel adjustment rate brought about by hikes in the price of natural gas, a fuel used to produce electricity.

Mayoral years[edit]

In 1977, Lanier scored a political comeback, not for utilities commissioner, for that position had been abolished in the new city charter. Instead, he ran for mayor in a multi-candidate nonpartisan blanket primary. He forced controversial Mayor John K. Snyder into a runoff, called the general election in Louisiana.[1] Eliminated in the primary were Champ Leroy Baker (1919–1985), a planning and development official active in veterans' causes; Judith Ward-Steinman Karst, the then wife of former Mayor Ed Karst, outgoing Finance and Utilities Commissioner Arnold Jack Rosenthal, and former State Representative Larry Parker. In the second round of balloting, Lanier topped Snyder, 8,420 (68 percent) to 3,934 ballots (32 percent). Upon taking office as mayor, Lanier removed eavesdropping devices that Snyder had installed throughout Alexandria City Hall. When Snyder refused to surrender his municipal car, Lanier had the payroll office withhold Snyder's final paycheck until the vehicle was returned to the city.[1]

Lanier retained the outgoing Streets and Parks Commissioner Malcolm P. Hebert, a registered mechanical engineer as the head of the new Department of Public Works under the city charter.

After Hebert left the post, Lanier named as the replacement Anthony S. "Tony" D'Angelo (1917-2012), an Alexandria native, 30-year veteran of the United States Navy, and the former manager of the Rapides Parish Coliseum.[3]

Lanier also pleased business by attempting to move the city forward economically. He hired Ray R. Allen, the secretary-treasurer since 1963 who had been dismissed by Snyder in the waning days of that administration, as the new finance director under the mayor-council government.[4]

Mayor Lanier oversaw the construction of the downtown Alexander Fulton Minipark, named for Alexander Fulton, the founder of Alexandria. He secured federal grant money that resulted in the establishment of the Alexander Fulton Inn, which includes downtown convention facilities.[1]

Under Lanier, the decision was made to route Interstate 49 through downtown Alexandria instead of twenty miles to the west, as many had presumed would have been the better location from an engineering standpoint. The revised Jackson Street Bridge atop the Red River proceeded under Lanier. It is named for the late U.S. Representative Gillis W. Long of Alexandria. Lanier supported the construction of the performing arts center downtown, which was not completed until the administration of later Mayor Ned Randolph.[1]

Lanier supported the building of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center and the Bolton Community Center. He worked to pave forty-five streets in the African American community. Under Lanier, the first black firefighters and the first female bus drivers were hired.[1]

In time, however, voters again soured on Lanier. Economic difficulties dominated local, state, and national news in 1982, and Alexandria was hard-hit by the slump. Faced with declining city revenues, utility rates crept upward again. Lanier imposed a hiring freeze on new city employees. He further ordered the 923 city employees to work only thirty-two hours per week, instead of the customary forty hours, with a one-fifth cut in gross pay. The proposed work reduction was, however, struck down as an abuse of mayoral authority by Ninth Judicial District Court Judge William Polk. Lanier particularly angered sanitation workers when he declared that their pace of work was too slow. He threatened privatization unless their overall efficiency improved.

In seeking reelection, Lanier urged constituents to be patient regarding utility rates because the city had signed an agreement with the Central Louisiana Electric Company of Pineville to purchase coal-fired power from the new Rodemacher facility. Voters, however, rallied once more behind Snyder, who unseated Lanier, much to the consternation of the Alexandria business establishment who feared Snyder's often erratic ways.[1]

Lanier ran once more for mayor in 1986, when Snyder declined to seek a third nonconsecutive term, but he polled only 912 votes (5 percent). The position went instead to former State Senator Ned Randolph, who held the position for a record twenty years.[5]

Later years[edit]

From 1988 until his retirement in 2000, Lanier was the executive director of the Alexandria Housing Authority.[2]

Lanier died at the Grace Home in Alexandria at the age of eighty-six.[2] He was interred on December 7, 2012 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park north of Pineville.

Lanier is survived by his wife, Winifred C. "Wendy" Lanier (born February 26, 1930); two daughters, Kathy Lanier Miller and Theresa Louise Lanier Massey, and a son, Steve Lanier. Another son, Brian Lanier[2] (1958-1977),[2] was killed in an accident at the age of nineteen, four months before his father's election as mayor.[6]

Marion Chaney, one of the first two at-large members of the Alexandria City Council under the current municipal charter, said of Lanier:

He was a good friend. He loved Alexandria and wanted to lead it in the right direction. As far as I know, he was a fair person and would listen to anybody who needed to talk to the mayor. He was always there in his office. But I think more than anything, he was a visionary.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Cynthia D. Jardon, "Former Alexandria Mayor Carroll Lanier dies at 86"". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Carroll E. Lanier". Alexandria Daily Town Talk, December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ Obituary of Anthony D'Angelo, Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 22, 2012
  4. ^ "Ray Allen, former city of Alexandria finance director, dies at age of 89". Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 7, 2010. 
  5. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary election returns, September 27, 1986
  6. ^ "Persons born January 3, 1958 in the Social Security Death Master File, November 30, 2011". ssdmf.info. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 

Alexandria Daily Town Talk, February 7, March 3, 4, April 3, May 4, 8, and July 20, 1982

Political offices
Preceded by
Leroy Wilson
Commissioner of Finance and Utilities of Alexandria, Louisiana

Carroll Edwin Lanier
1969–1973

Succeeded by
Arnold Jack Rosenthal
Preceded by
John K. Snyder
Mayor of Alexandria, Louisiana

Carroll Edwin Lanier
1977–1982

Succeeded by
John K. Snyder