Unity is the key to Shreveport’s success

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State Senator Greg Tarver

The city of Shreveport is at a crossroads. We have the option of marching into a brave new future, or we can continue down a path where we talk more about past glory than future success. Shreveport needs proven leadership, and the task of that leadership will be to establish UNITY. Create for Shreveport a unique vision of where we need to go, embrace ideas that are good for Shreveport, whether the idea comes from Cooper Road or Dixie Gardens. A unique vision that will require proven leadership.

The challenges we face in Shreveport aren’t difficult because we don’t have the talent and the will to deal with those issues. Shreveport is a wonderful place with people of great faith, tremendous work ethic, boundless energy and unparalleled creativity. The talented sons and daughters of Shreveport have reached the upper echelon of many fields of endeavor, from medicine and law, to higher education and athletics. Shreveport’s challenge is talent retention! How do we end up in a position where crime is at record levels, our economy is stagnating and our children are leaving in droves?

During my career of public service to the people of Shreveport, I was able to obtain financial support for many initiatives, institutions and programs because I was willing to work across parties and races, always guided by the priority given to the people of Shreveport. As Mayor, I will promote this UNITY mindset that puts what is good for the people of Shreveport first.

My mother taught me early on the importance of helping people in the community and being part of their growth. These early lessons led me to become active in civic affairs and to believe that I could make a difference as a public servant. I was invited to serve on the board of Confederate Memorial Hospital, where other leaders and I worked to change the name to LSU.

Later, I was elected to the Caddo Parish Police Jury (now the Caddo Parish Commission) and the Shreveport City Council. My goal was to always work to level the playing field for the young, old and working women and men of our communities, who for so long had no one to advocate for their needs and aspirations. I believe I have remained true to this commitment throughout my career in government.

Over the years that I have held these positions, I have found that women often do not have a voice. On leaving the police jury and the city council, and at a time when the task was quite difficult, I appointed very qualified women to replace me in both positions.

In 1984, I became the first African-American senator to serve North Louisiana since reconstruction, with the priority of bringing new opportunities in the form of businesses and jobs to the region. I have worked continuously to do this over the years and, I believe, have succeeded. From day one, my motto has been “I get the job done”, and my resume speaks for itself.

Currently, as Dean of the Louisiana Senate, I serve on the following committees, always with a view to fulfilling my commitment to those who elected me: Finance, Judiciary B, Senate and Government Affairs, Senate Executive Committee ( Chairman), Veterans Public Affairs, Joint Legislative Committee on Budget, Natural Resources, and Vocational and Technical Education. My work in Baton Rouge has helped create thousands of new jobs in medical and other industries. The experience I have gained over the years has given me a unique perspective, with the ability to understand and work within the system to help our community.

Shreveport has been good to my family. My grandfather moved here and started a business, JS Williams Funeral Home, over 125 years ago. My siblings continue to manage and grow this family business, which is the oldest African-American business still in operation in Shreveport. My wife, Velma Kirksey Tarver, and I have owned and operated our family business, Quality Office Supply, for over three decades, and we fully understand the challenges of small business owners. Velma is also the Founder/Director of the Institute for Global Outreach and is currently working on her Ph.D. in public policy.

My family and I are proud to be part of this great community to which we have dedicated our future. My heart has always been with everyone in Shreveport and that will never change.

What I hope for Shreveport is a better future, and while I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve the people of Northwest Louisiana and the city of Shreveport, I would like to continue this service and help make this future a reality as your mayor. Shreveport is my home, and I believe that with your help and support, we can make it this shining city on the Red River. My commitment to you is to work tirelessly to achieve that future we all envision. I look forward to sharing my vision of Shreveport in future articles.

Greg Tarver is the state senator for District 39 and a Democratic candidate for mayor of Shreveport.

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