The office of Mayor-President of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was formally created in 1846 as the chief executive of the City of Baton Rouge, Louisiana,[1] which has been the state capital of Louisiana continuously since 1849 (except for a brief time during and after the Civil War when Opelousas, Shreveport, or New Orleans held that title).

Leon Jastremski, 34th chief executive of Baton Rouge.
Leon Jastremski, 34th chief executive of Baton Rouge.
Kip Holden, 63rd chief executive of Baton Rouge.
Kip Holden, 63rd chief executive of Baton Rouge.
Some of the men and women who have held the title of mayor in the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Some of the men and women who have held the title of mayor in the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


Baton Rouge was granted the right to incorporate in 1817 under legislation approved by Louisiana's second governor, Jacques Villeré. The city was chartered the following year and led by a magistrate who was chosen among the popularly-elected, five-member board of selectmen.[2] Selectmen were up for election annually.[3]

Early mayors also served one-year terms.[4] The office had a two-year term in the 1880s[5] and was increased to four years in duration in 1898.[6]

The first mayoral election in 1846 was between James Cooper (who had previously served as a magistrate[6]) and John Dufrocq,[1] a Whig Party member[7] who won the balloting.[6] In 1856 another noteworthy race occurred, this time between Know Nothing mayor Joseph Monget and his Democratic challenger, Edward Cousinard;[8] after actually tying in the popular vote, the commissioners of election decided to award the election to the incumbent.[9] Cousinard later won the mayor's seat himself in the 1857 election.[6]

The city's government essentially ceased to exist for the duration of the Civil War, once the Battle of Baton Rouge had begun in 1862.[10]: 250  It was also largely stripped of influence at one point by the First Reconstruction Act, which was issued in 1867.[11]

Multiple mayoral elections during the Reconstruction Era were disputed. After the 1871 election Gov. Henry Clay Warmoth did what he legally could from the temporary capitol in New Orleans to briefly prop up the new African American Republican mayor,[12] who was facing an overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled board of selectmen[10]: 254 —but in 1872 Warmoth himself was facing a mounting impeachment effort and forced to broaden what remained of his support by reaching out to Democrats who had a much more solid base in Louisiana than the Republicans did; he declared the disputed 1872 election results null and void, and awarded the state's commission to the Democratic candidate.[13] Ultimately, the 1872–73 term essentially ended up with two separately-functioning city governments, one recognized primarily by African American and pro-Union white Republicans (including so-called "carpetbaggers" and "scalawags") and one recognized primarily by native white Democrats.[10]: 253–54  Although the term "city council" had been used on occasion before,[14] the board of selectmen really seems to have begun transitioning over to the use of the term under the Republican mayor that year,[15] perhaps in anticipation of needing to differentiate it from the competing board of selectmen that the Democrats were in the process of setting up (the board finally formally adopted the title "city council" in 1874[16]). The Republicans had shown improvements in their organizational efforts (and electoral strength in general) by being able to win the 1872 election without Warmoth's help—and then by holding a share of the government for the duration of the term. While the Democratic mayor, James Elam, had been willing to fight to hang on to his seat after the disputed votes of 1871 and 1872, he either determined that he had no chance at the ballot box in the 1873 annual municipal elections or he simply no longer felt up to the challenge any more (he did, in fact, die only several months after the scheduled election date[17]). Shortly before the election was to be held, African American state senator J. Henri Burch, a prominent area Republican, met with Elam, and they negotiated a compromise where Elam would resign his position and support new governor William Pitt Kellogg's appointment of the Republican incumbent to the mayor's seat—along with three Republicans and three Democrats to the city council (as selected by a conference committee).[18] This compromise was largely acceptable to both sides (very rare for Reconstruction), although a rogue faction of the Democrats did attempt to hold their own election for the council (which failed to draw many to the polls and apparently quickly faded away).[19]

After making it through 1873 relatively peacefully, Kellogg also appointed the mayor in 1874.[10]: 255  The Republicans did win a municipal election in their own right in 1875, but in 1876 the Democrats were able to use various forms of intimidation, including by former members of the old Knights of the White Camelia, to regain the mayor's seat[20]: 224  for the first of 28 consecutive Democratic chief executives.

In 1914 the city began using a city commission government under then-mayor Alex Grouchy, Jr.[2] (it had already been in the works before the sudden death of Mayor Jules Roux the year before).[21] In 1949 the governments of the city and the Parish of East Baton Rouge were largely consolidated under then-mayor S. Powers Higginbotham,[22] and in 1982 they were fully merged into a single governing body (similar to a consolidated city-county, although the municipalities of Baker, Central, and Zachary remain self-governing). At that time, the title of "mayor" changed to "mayor-president,"[23] being that they were now both mayor of Baton Rouge and president of East Baton Rouge Parish. Indeed, three recent mayor-presidents resided in Baker or Zachary at the time of their elections, giving them the distinction of serving as mayor of Baton Rouge without actually living there. No candidate from the City of Central has been elected mayor-president yet, although Mack A. "Bodi" White, Jr. came very close to doing so in 2016 by receiving 48.2% of the vote.[24]

No families have dominated the office over the years, although Baton Rouge's longest-serving mayor—Wade Bynum (24 years over two different periods of time)[9]—did replace his brother Turner Bynum after he died in office,[25] and Mary Webb was later appointed by the city council to complete the term of her late husband, Jesse Webb, Jr.[26] Although most of Baton Rouge's mayors have been white male Democrats, the last four mayor-presidents have included multiple Republicans and African Americans, as well as a woman. The current mayor-president is Sharon Weston Broome.

List of magistrates, mayors, and mayor-presidents

Below is a list of Baton Rouge's chief executives—magistrates from 1818 to 1846,[27][2] mayors from 1846 to 1949, and mayor-presidents from 1949 to present. The town magistrate was an appointive office, determined from within the elected five-member board of selectmen.[2] All city mayors and city-parish mayor-presidents were otherwise popularly elected, unless specified below.

No. Mayor Term start Term end Party Note
1 William Williams 1818 1820 first magistrate
2 Francois "Palo" Gardere 1820 1821
3 William Williams 1821 1822
4 William Wykoff, Jr. 1822 1823
5 Jason Candee 1823 1824
6 Bartholomew T. Beauregard 1824 1828
7 William Grivet 1828 1829
8 William R. Willis 1829 1832
9 John Reid 1832 1833
10 William R. Willis 1833 1834
11 P. A. Walker 1834 1835
12 Raphael Legendre 1835 1836
13 Stephen Henderson, Jr. 1836 1836[16] resigned[16]
14 Raphael Legendre 1836 1838
15 William Gil, Sr. 1838 1839
16 James Cooper 1839 1843
17 Abel Waddill 1843 1844
18 James Cooper 1844 1845
19 John Reid 1845 1846 final magistrate
20 John Robert Dufrocq 1846 1855 Whig[7] first mayor;[6] 1854: re-elected unopposed[28]
21 Joseph Monget 1855 1857 Know Nothing[8] 1856: appointed, by commissioners of election, due to election resulting in a tie vote of 223–223[9]
22 Edward Cousinard 1857 1859 Democratic[8]
23 James Essex Mason Elam 1859 1862 Democratic
24 Benjamin Frankin Bryan 1862 1862 Democratic resigned, due to Battle of Baton Rouge[9]
25 Jordan Holt 1862 1865 Democratic[29] 1862: appointed, by board of selectmen;[9] 1863–1865: city administered by Union occupation troops, rather than by municipal government;[10]: 250  1865: reappointed, by Gov. J. Madison Wells; resigned, to serve in Louisiana House of Representatives[9]
26 James Essex Mason Elam 1865 1869 Democratic[10]: 251–52  1865: appointed, by Wells;[10]: 251  1867: election canceled, due to order by Gen. Philip Sheridan[10]: 252  in accordance with the implementation of the First Reconstruction Act[11]
27 Oliver P. Skolfield 1869 1870 Democratic[30]
28 James Essex Mason Elam 1870 1871 Democratic[10]: 253 
29 Loyeau Berhel 1871 1871 Republican[10]: 253  certified elected, by Democratic-controlled commissioners of election; commissioned to assume office, by Gov. Henry Clay Warmoth[12] but was eventually removed after charges of voting irregularities upheld by Democratic-controlled electoral investigative committee;[10]: 254  first African American mayor; first Republican mayor[10]: 253 
30 James Essex Mason Elam 1871 1872 Democratic 1871: retroactively declared elected by Democratic-controlled electoral investigative committee[10]: 254 
31 * Henry Schorten 1872 1876 Republican[31] 1872: certified elected, by commissioners of election[15] and remained in office after charges of voting irregularities dismissed by Democratic-controlled electoral investigating committee;[10]: 254  1873: appointed, by Gov. William Pitt Kellogg; 1874: reappointed, by Kellogg;[10]: 255  first white Republican mayor; first Republican mayor to serve full term
32 * Jordan Holt 1872 1872 Democratic acting mayor;[15] after his and Democratic-controlled Board of Selectmen's endorsement of petition signed by prominent local citizens, election results were voided, by Warmoth[32]
33 * James Essex Mason Elam 1872 1873 Democratic[31] commissioned to assume office, by Warmoth;[13] resigned, due to the creation of the bipartisan "compromise list of candidates for the city government" for Kellogg to appoint[18]
34 Leon Jastremski 1876 1882 Democratic[10]: 256 
35 Joseph C. Charrotte 1882 1883 Democratic died in office[6]
36 John J. Wax 1883 1883 Democratic acting mayor[27]
37 William S. Booth 1883 1884 Democratic
38 Gustavus L. "Gus" Vay 1884 1888 Democratic
39 Benjamin Franklin Bryan 1888 1890 Democratic
40 Gustavus "Gus" L. Vay 1890 1894 Democratic
41 Benjamin Franklin Bryan 1894 1896 Democratic[33]
42 John J. Wax 1896 1898 Democratic
43 Robert A. Hart 1898 1902 Democratic
44 Robert L. Pruyn 1902 1902 Democratic resigned, due to commitments of his building contractor business[34]
45 Benjamin Raphael "Ben" Mayer, Sr. 1902 1903 Democratic acting mayor;[35][27] first known Jewish mayor[36]
46 Wade Hampton Bynum 1903 1910 Democratic longest-serving mayor (also served 1923–41)
47 Jules Roux 1910 1913 Democratic died in office[6]
48 Isidore Larguier III 1913 1913 Democratic acting mayor[37][27]
49 Alex Grouchy, Jr. 1913 1922 Democratic 1913: appointed, by city council[38]
50 Turner Bynum 1922 1922 Democratic died in office[6]
51 Louis J. Ricaud 1922 1923 Democratic acting mayor[2][27]
52 Wade Hampton Bynum 1923 1941 Democratic longest-serving mayor (also served 1903–10)
53 Frederick Saugrain "Fred" LeBlanc, Sr. 1941 1944 Democratic resigned, to serve as Louisiana Attorney General[39]
54 Sargent Powers Higginbotham 1944 1953 Democratic 1944: appointed, by Gov. Jimmie Davis;[39] final mayor; 1949: first mayor-president[22]
55 Jesse Lynn Webb, Jr. 1953 1956 Democratic died in office[26]
56 Frank J. McConnell 1956 1956 Democratic acting mayor[40][27]
57 Mary Estus Jones Webb 1956 1957 Democratic appointed, by city council; first female mayor[26]
58 John "Jack" Christian 1957 1965 Democratic
59 Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Dumas 1965 1981 Democratic resident of Baker at time of election
60 James Patrick "Pat" Screen, Jr. 1981 1989 Democratic
61 Thomas Edward "Tom Ed" McHugh 1989 2001 Democratic resident of Zachary at time of election; changed party affiliation to Republican in 1995;[41] first Republican mayor since Reconstruction Era
62 Bobby Ray Simpson 2001 2005 Republican mayor of Baker at time of election
63 Melvin Lee "Kip" Holden 2005 2017 Democratic first African American mayor to serve full term; first Democratic African American mayor (Republican Loyeau Berhel served one year in 1871)
64 Sharon Weston Broome 2017 Present Democratic first elected female mayor; first female African American mayor

Note: an asterisk denotes that the 1872–73 mayoral term featured two competing claims to the title, one from a Republican-controlled city government led by Henry Schorten and one from a Democratic-controlled city government led by Jordan Holt and, later, James Essex Mason Elam; for what it is worth, Schorten physically occupied the actual mayor's chair in the city hall,[42] effectively making the Holt and Elam administrations a rump government.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Municipal Elections: To Take Place In April Next". Baton Rouge Democratic Advocate (p. 2). March 25, 1846.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Baton Rouge Has Had Rapid Growth In Past Century". Baton Rouge State–Times (p. 71). May 16, 1932.
  3. ^ Ernest Gueymard (June 28, 1976). "Gueymard Notebook: Early BR 'City Father'". Baton Rouge State–Times (sec. A, p. 3).
  4. ^ "Mayor's Proclamation: Mayor's Office, City Of Baton Rouge, March 24th, 1866 (I)". Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Advocate (p. 2). March 26, 1866.
  5. ^ "Death of Mayor Charrotte". Baton Rouge Daily Capitolian–Advocate (p. 2). October 15, 1883.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Evelyn Martindale Thom (1967). Baton Rouge Story: An Historical Sketch of Louisiana's Capital City. Baton Rouge Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Inc. (p. 19).
  7. ^ a b "Telegraphed to the New Orleans Picayune: Baton Rouge Mayor". New Orleans Daily Picayune (p. 1). April 7, 1852.
  8. ^ a b c "Things About Town: Municipal Election". Baton Rouge Daily Advocate (p. 2). April 5, 1856.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Ernest Gueymard (September 22, 1980). "Gueymard Notebook: Bynum was Mayor longest". Baton Rouge State–Times (sec. A, p. 3).
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Mark T. Carleton; Perry H. Howard; Joseph B. Parker, eds. (1975). Readings in Louisiana Politics. Claitor's Publishing Division.
  11. ^ a b "The Situation". Port Allen (La.) Sugar Planter (p. 2). March 23, 1867.
  12. ^ a b "Why dont (sic) you choose good men from your own race, and run them for office instead of putting these carpet baggers in all the offices". New Orleans Louisianian (p. 2). April 23, 1871.
  13. ^ a b "The City Council: Official Proceedings—Mayor's Office, City Of Baton Rouge, April, 24, 1872". Baton Rouge Weekly Advocate (p. 3). April 27, 1872.
  14. ^ "The following Ordinances were presented at the last regular meeting of the City Council, but there not being a full meeting, no action was taken on them". Baton Rouge Weekly Advocate. March 25, 1860.
  15. ^ a b c "The City Council: Official Proceedings—Mayor's Office, City Of Baton Rouge, April, 13, 1872". Baton Rouge Weekly Advocate (p. 3). April 20, 1872.
  16. ^ a b c Charles East (November 14, 1956). "BR Mayors Are Forgotten Men: First to Hold Title Was Dufrocq; Magistrates Served Earlier". Baton Rouge State–Times (sec. B, p. 13).
  17. ^ "Notice". New Orleans Daily Picayune (p. 5). August 1, 1873.
  18. ^ a b "Peace In Baton Rouge: The Lion and the Lamb Lie Down Together—Practical Compromise and Happy Results". New Orleans Republican (p. 1). April 3, 1873.
  19. ^ "Communicated: That Baton Rouge Election". New Orleans Republican (p. 1). April 10, 1873.
  20. ^ Mark F. Bielski (2016). Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War: Divided Poles in a Divided Nation. Casemate Publishers. ISBN 978-1-61200-358-0.
  21. ^ "Have You Voted On Commission Government? Baton Rouge is Holding An Election to Change Its Form Government". Baton Rouge New Advocate (p. 1). May 13, 1913.
  22. ^ a b "Higginbotham Makes History As First Mayor-President". Baton Rouge State–Times (sec. B, p. 25). January 1, 1949.
  23. ^ "Baton Rouge Government". City-Parish Government. Baton Rouge Government. Archived from the original on July 28, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "Mack White Jr". 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  25. ^ "Wade Bynum To Run For Mayor Of Baton Rouge: Yields to Unanimous Urging for Him to Offer His Services—Means There'll Be No Local Fight—Mr. Bynum is Acceptable to All Shades of Political Opinion". Baton Rouge State–Times (p. 1). December 29, 1922.
  26. ^ a b c "Mrs. Webb Will Serve As Mayor: Widow of Plane Crash Victim Agrees to Finish His Unexpired Term; Appointment Offered by Council". Baton Rouge State–Times (sec. A, p. 1). May 5, 1956.
  27. ^ a b c d e f Ernest Gueymard (October 26, 1981). "Gueymard notebook: Names of Baton Rouge's 'lost' mayors are discovered". Baton Rouge State–Times (sec. B, p. 3).
  28. ^ "The Gazette, of this morning, gives the following as the result of the Municipal Election which came off yesterday". Baton Rouge Daily Advocate (p. 2). April 4, 1854.
  29. ^ "The Election". New Orleans Daily Picayune (p. 9). November 10, 1865.
  30. ^ "O. P. Skofield, Esq., has been elected Mayor of Baton Rouge". Galveston Daily News (p. 3). April 24, 1869.
  31. ^ a b "At a municipal election, for Mayor, held in Baton Rouge, on the 8th inst". Opelousas (La.) Journal (p. 2). April 20, 1872.
  32. ^ Charles East (November 15, 1956). "Some of Mayors Were Colorful Figures". Baton Rouge State–Times (sec. C, p. 6).
  33. ^ "City Democratic Ticket". Baton Rouge Daily Advocate (p. 2). March 18, 1894.
  34. ^ "Latest News In Louisiana: Mayor Pruyn Resigns-Big Real Estate Deal-Railway From Donaldsonville to Napoleonville". New Orleans Daily Picayune (p. 12). December 24, 1902.
  35. ^ "The City Council". Baton Rouge Weekly Advocate (p. 1). February 14, 1903.
  36. ^ "Distinguished Citizen Passed Away Sunday: Ben R. Mayer Died Suddenly at 7:30 O'clock After Attack of Indigestion—Long Prominent Baton Rougean—Funeral Takes Place This Afternoon, 6 O'clock, from Family Residence". Baton Rouge State–Times (p. 1). May 4, 1914.
  37. ^ "City Mourns Death of Jules Roux And Pays Last Tribute Of Respect To His Memory: Business in General Suspended This Afternoon During the Hour of the Funeral—The Schools Close at Noon for Children to Attend in Body—State And Parish Officials Will Attend Funeral In Body—Special Train from New Orleans Brings Up Mayor Behrman and Large Party of New Orleans Friends—Many and Beautiful Floral Tributes Were Received—Telegrams Received from Over the State". Baton Rouge New Advocate (p. 1). May 13, 1913.
  38. ^ "Boll Weevil Need Create No Alarm: Grouchy Now Mayor". New Orleans Daily Advocate (p. 7). June 7, 1913.
  39. ^ a b "Say Higginbotham To Be Mayor Here: Governor Noncommittal; LeBlanc Leaves Today". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate (sec. A, p. 1). May 19, 1944.
  40. ^ "McConnell Is Serving as Acting Mayor: Council to Appoint Mayor-President Under Charter Terms". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate (sec. A, p. 1). April 29, 1956.
  41. ^ Jack Wardlaw (January 4, 1995). "B.R. Mayor Announces Move To Republican Party". New Orleans Times–Picayune (sec. B, p. 8).
  42. ^ "Local Brevities". Baton Rouge Weekly Advocate (p. 3). April 20, 1872.