|Mayor of Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, USA|
December 1986 – December 2006
|Preceded by||John K. Snyder|
|Succeeded by||Jacques Roy|
|Louisiana State Senator from District 29 (Rapides Parish)|
|Preceded by||Cecil R. Blair|
|Succeeded by||William Joseph "Joe" McPherson, Jr.|
|Louisiana State Representative from District 26 (Rapides Parish)|
|Preceded by||At-large delegation:
|Succeeded by||Jock Scott|
|President of the Louisiana Municipal Association|
|Preceded by||Clarence W. Hawkins|
|Succeeded by||Bobby R. Simpson|
|Born||Edward Gordon Randolph, Jr.
February 1, 1942
|Spouse(s)||Twice divorced; wife #3 - Deborah Ann Randolph (married 1994)|
|Children||Sanna Aimee Randolph (born 1970)
Edward Randolph, III (born 1971)
|Randolph served in both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature and for twenty years as mayor of his hometown of Alexandria, but two attempts to be elected to the United States House of Representatives eluded him.|
Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr. (born February 1, 1942), is a veteran Democratic politician who served as the mayor of Alexandria in central Louisiana from 1986 to 2006. Randolph was also a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1972 to 1976 and the Louisiana State Senate from 1976 to 1984. In 1982 and 1992, Randolph was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives, having lost to the incumbents Gillis William Long of Alexandria and Richard H. Baker of Baton Rouge, respectively.
Randolph was born in Alexandria to Edward G. Randolph, Sr. (1911–1996), and the former Edith Beatrice Harrison (1910–2005). He was reared mostly in Colfax, the seat of Grant Parish north of Alexandria. He graduated in 1960 from Bolton High School in the Alexandria Garden District and from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1964. Thereafter, he obtained his law degree from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans. He began practicing law in Alexandria but quickly entered elective politics.
Legislative service, 1972-1984
In 1972, Randolph was elected to the position of state representative for newly established single-member District 26. After he secured the Democratic nomination over a field that included Alexandria restaurateur John Hampton "Hamp" Smith (August 26, 1937 – May 17, 2005), Randolph polled 71.4 percent of the general election vote to 28.6 percent for Republican P. C. "Clyde" Connell, Jr., an educator unrelated to the Louisiana artist Clyde Connell. In the legislature, Randolph compiled a record of seeking to bring state funding and projects to central Louisiana, a previously neglected part of the state.
In 1975, he ran for the District 29 state Senate seat and unseated the 14-year incumbent, Cecil R. Blair, a fellow Democrat from Lecompte in south Rapides Parish, in the first nonpartisan blanket primary held in Louisiana.
In 1976, as a new state senator, he and then State Representative John W. "Jock" Scott, a fellow Alexandria attorney and Randolph's successor in the state House, who in 1975 had defeated a former legislator and a future judge, Lloyd George Teekell, led the successful Rapides Parish campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter. A quiet, introspective man, Randolph learned how to get things done for his district during his two terms in the state senate.
Randolph's political challenges
In 1982, Randolph challenged U.S. Representative Gillis Long of the since defunct Eighth Congressional District. Long prevailed with 71,103 ballots (59.6 percent), to Randolph's 46,656 votes (39.1 percent), (A minor candidate polled 1.3 percent.) In that campaign, Randolph made appearances with popular soap-opera star Deidre Hall of NBC's Days of our Lives, whom he was dating at the time after the breakup of his first marriage.
In 1983, Randolph was unseated in the primary for reelection to the state senate by fellow Democrat William Joseph "Joe" McPherson, Jr., then of Pineville, across the Red River from Alexandria and later from Woodworth in south Rapides Parish. McPherson, who was elected to the state senate again in 2007, was supported by both Congressman Long and Governor Edwin Washington Edwards, who was making a successful bid in that same election for a third term in the governor's office.
Randolph's defeat is considered to have been a fallout from the gubernatorial fight between Edwards and Republican Governor David C. Treen. Other Treen allies in the Democratic Party also lost their seats, including Dan Richey of Ferriday.
In the primary, Randolph led with 13,501 votes (38.4 percent) to McPherson's 11,032 (31.4 percent). Former Senator Cecil Blair polled 6,096 votes (17.4 percent), and Alexandria Mayor John Kenneth Snyder, Sr., in the second year of his second mayoral term, received 4,496 (12.8 percent). In the runoff—officially the Louisiana general election - McPherson, who had the backing of Gillis Long and Edwin Edwards, won, 16,360 votes (53.9 percent) to Randolph's 13,973 (46.1 percent). Turnout was nearly five thousand less in the runoff than in the primary, a fact that may have worked against incumbent Randolph. With two consecutive defeats, Randolph's political career seemed on the ropes.
Elected mayor of his hometown, 1986
Yet, in 1986, Randolph launched a successful political comeback. He won the first of his five consecutive terms as mayor of Alexandria. He defeated eight candidates outright in the primary with a margin of 52.5 percent of the vote. One of those contenders was former Mayor Carroll E. Lanier, who finished with only 5 percent of the vote. In the four subsequent elections, Randolph won in the primaries and did not have to face an opponent in a general election.
On the day of his inauguration, December 1, 1986, the Alexandria Daily Town Talk reported that the theme of the event was "We're proud again. Our pride is back." Nationally syndicated radio host Paul Harvey told the nation that Alexandria was back on a "positive" path.
The city is governed by a mayor-council form of government established in a new charter drafted in the middle 1970s. Curiously, Randolph's first wife, Sanna Randolph, was a member of the city charter commission that created the job description that he exercised for twenty years.
Alexandria's population shifted from a barely white city to a 55 percent black majority during Randolph's tenure. He worked closely with African American community leaders, and many supported him in his mayoral campaigns. Randolph also had a close working relationship with Clarence R. Fields, the black mayor of predominantly white Pineville.
Second bid for Congress, 1992
In 1992, just five years into his mayoral service, Randolph was again attracted by the lure of Congress. When the Eighth Congressional District was disbanded, Alexandria was temporarily placed in a new Sixth District, which included populous East Baton Rouge Parish. Randolph ran as the lone Democrat for the seat. Two Republican congressmen ran against each other, Richard Baker and Clyde C. Holloway of Randolph's own Rapides Parish. Holloway led in the jungle primary, 52,012 (37 percent). Baker was second with 46,990 votes (33 percent). Randolph finished a close third with 42,819 ballots (30 percent).
In the general election, Baker defeated Holloway by 2,728 votes even though Holloway polled majorities in fifteen of the seventeen parishes in the district. A majority of Randolph's supporters were believed to have gone to Baker. Turnout in the congressional general election, which accompanied the Clinton-Bush presidential contest, was 245,178, nearly double the 141,821 votes cast in the primary.
Legacy as mayor
Contrast to Snyder
Randolph announced on April 3, 2006, that he would not seek a sixth term. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, his hometown newspaper, said that his 20-year leadership had lifted "the city's esteem and changed its direction." Randolph succeeded the controversial John K. Snyder, an admirer of the late Earl Kemp Long. Snyder once even checked himself into a mental health facility.
"Thank God Ned chose to run," said Glen Earnest Beard, the Alexandria police chief from 1983 until 1991. "When he was elected, it was like a breath of fresh air." At one point, Snyder even seized Beard's police car. Randolph later named Darren Coutee as the first African American police chief.
"I think one of the biggest things was that people were somewhat embarrassed to say they were from Alexandria," said Deborah Ann Randolph (born 1957), the mayor's third wife, in reference to the Snyder administration. Snyder had also served an earlier term from 1973 to 1977, under the former commission form of city government, but had been defeated for reelection under the mayor-council charter in 1977.
There were public relations campaigns "to try to make people feel good again about themselves and about Alexandria," said Mrs. Randolph. A former city council member, Marion Chaney, who works for an Alexandria architectural firm, said, "It was time for a change" by 1986. "I wouldn't say Alexandria was a laughing stock, but it definitely needed a change."
When Randolph became mayor, Alexandria faced budget deficits and potential city employee layoffs. During the two decades that Randolph served as mayor, Alexandria landed a tank car plant, completed the Riverfront Center, opened a performing arts center, and improved its drainage system. However, the city was hurt by the closing of the former England Air Force Base and a police strike in the 1990s.
Randolph said that his "worst day" in office came early in 2003, when two young police officers, David C. Ezernack and Jeremy E. "Jay" Carruth, were shot to death in the line of duty.
The Williamson case
In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Randolph fired two city officials, Harold Chambers and Sonny Craig, and asked for the resignation of a long-time friend, Kilyun Darrell Williamson (1945-2013), as the director of the Alexandria Planning and Economic Development Department. From 1987 to 2003, Williamson, a native of Prentiss, Mississippi, who graduated from Bolton High School in 1963, had been the director of public works, a position created in 1977 and first filled by the late Malcolm P. Hebert during the Lanier administration. In 1984, Williamson, a Republican, had, like Democrat Randolph two years earlier, mounted an unsuccessful congressional campaign against Gillis Long.
Before joining city government, Williamson, a graduate of Louisiana College and Northwestern State University, had been a former staff member of the Rapides Area Planning Commission, a member of the Rapides Parish Police Jury from 1980 to 1982, and the chairman of the Red River Waterway Commission and the Sabine River Authority. Chambers, Craig, and Williamson filed suit against the city, and each procured a $25,000 settlement. Randolph issued a statement saying that none of the three had done nothing wrong, and he penned letters of recommendation on behalf of each man. From 2005 until his death eight years later, Williamson worked as project manager for the Alexandria engineering firm, Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix & Hixson.
In 1996, a decade after he became mayor, Randolph ran unsuccessfully for a state judgeship.
Now semi-retired, Randolph practices law and serves as the Central Louisiana representative for the state Attorney General's Office. He and wife Deborah, who have been married since 1994, still reside in Alexandria. He has two children from his first marriage to Sanna Randolph: Sanna Aimee Randolph (born 1970) and journalist Edward G. "Ned" Randolph, III, (born 1971), with the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Randolph is also the stepfather of Deborah's son Matthew Dunn (born 1986), a television and radio talk show host and journalist in Baton Rouge.
- "Kilyun Darrell Williamson". The Town Talk. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
- "Darrell Williamson remembered as a 'get things done' person, August 29, 2013". The Town Talk. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
- "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". cityofwinnfield.com. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
|Louisiana State Representative from District 26 (Rapides Parish)
Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr.
Cecil R. Blair
|Louisiana State Senator from District 29 (Rapides Parish)
Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr.
William Joseph "Joe" McPherson, Jr.
John K. Snyder
|Mayor of Alexandria, Louisiana
Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr.
Clarence W. Hawkins of Bastrop
|President of the Louisiana Municipal Association
Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr.
Bobby R. Simpson of East Baton Rouge Parish