|Elections in Louisiana|
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, 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).
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. Selectmen were up for election annually.
Early mayors also served one-year terms. The office had a two-year term in the 1880s and was increased to four years in duration in 1898.
The first mayoral election in 1846 was between James Cooper (who had previously served as a magistrate) and John Dufrocq, a Whig Party member who won the balloting. In 1856 another noteworthy race occurred, this time between Know Nothing mayor Joseph Monget and his Democratic challenger, Edward Cousinard; after actually tying in the popular vote, the commissioners of election decided to award the election to the incumbent. Cousinard later won the mayor's seat himself in the 1857 election.
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.: 250 It was also largely stripped of influence at one point by the First Reconstruction Act, which was issued in 1867.
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, who was facing an overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled board of selectmen: 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. 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.: 253–54 Although the term "city council" had been used on occasion before, the board of selectmen really seems to have begun transitioning over to the use of the term under the Republican mayor that year, 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). 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). 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). 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).
After making it through 1873 relatively peacefully, Kellogg also appointed the mayor in 1874.: 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: 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. (it had already been in the works before the sudden death of Mayor Jules Roux the year before). In 1949 the governments of the city and the Parish of East Baton Rouge were largely consolidated under then-mayor S. Powers Higginbotham, 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," 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.
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)—did replace his brother Turner Bynum after he died in office, and Mary Webb was later appointed by the city council to complete the term of her late husband, Jesse Webb, Jr. 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.
Below is a list of Baton Rouge's chief executives—magistrates from 1818 to 1846, 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. 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|
|4||William Wykoff, Jr.||1822||1823|
|6||Bartholomew T. Beauregard||1824||1828|
|8||William R. Willis||1829||1832|
|10||William R. Willis||1833||1834|
|11||P. A. Walker||1834||1835|
|13||Stephen Henderson, Jr.||1836||1836||resigned|
|15||William Gil, Sr.||1838||1839|
|19||John Reid||1845||1846||final magistrate|
|20||John Robert Dufrocq||1846||1855||Whig||first mayor; 1854: re-elected unopposed|
|21||Joseph Monget||1855||1857||Know Nothing||1856: appointed, by commissioners of election, due to election resulting in a tie vote of 223–223|
|23||James Essex Mason Elam||1859||1862||Democratic|
|24||Benjamin Frankin Bryan||1862||1862||Democratic||resigned, due to Battle of Baton Rouge|
|25||Jordan Holt||1862||1865||Democratic||1862: appointed, by board of selectmen; 1863–1865: city administered by Union occupation troops, rather than by municipal government;: 250 1865: reappointed, by Gov. J. Madison Wells; resigned, to serve in Louisiana House of Representatives|
|26||James Essex Mason Elam||1865||1869||Democratic: 251–52||1865: appointed, by Wells;: 251 1867: election canceled, due to order by Gen. Philip Sheridan: 252 in accordance with the implementation of the First Reconstruction Act|
|27||Oliver P. Skolfield||1869||1870||Democratic|
|28||James Essex Mason Elam||1870||1871||Democratic: 253|
|29||Loyeau Berhel||1871||1871||Republican: 253||certified elected, by Democratic-controlled commissioners of election; commissioned to assume office, by Gov. Henry Clay Warmoth but was eventually removed after charges of voting irregularities upheld by Democratic-controlled electoral investigative committee;: 254 first African American mayor; first Republican mayor: 253|
|30||James Essex Mason Elam||1871||1872||Democratic||1871: retroactively declared elected by Democratic-controlled electoral investigative committee: 254|
|31 *||Henry Schorten||1872||1876||Republican||1872: certified elected, by commissioners of election and remained in office after charges of voting irregularities dismissed by Democratic-controlled electoral investigating committee;: 254 1873: appointed, by Gov. William Pitt Kellogg; 1874: reappointed, by Kellogg;: 255 first white Republican mayor; first Republican mayor to serve full term|
|32 *||Jordan Holt||1872||1872||Democratic||acting mayor; after his and Democratic-controlled Board of Selectmen's endorsement of petition signed by prominent local citizens, election results were voided, by Warmoth|
|33 *||James Essex Mason Elam||1872||1873||Democratic||commissioned to assume office, by Warmoth; resigned, due to the creation of the bipartisan "compromise list of candidates for the city government" for Kellogg to appoint|
|34||Leon Jastremski||1876||1882||Democratic: 256|
|35||Joseph C. Charrotte||1882||1883||Democratic||died in office|
|36||John J. Wax||1883||1883||Democratic||acting mayor|
|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|
|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|
|45||Benjamin Raphael "Ben" Mayer, Sr.||1902||1903||Democratic||acting mayor; first known Jewish mayor|
|46||Wade Hampton Bynum||1903||1910||Democratic||longest-serving mayor (also served 1923–41)|
|47||Jules Roux||1910||1913||Democratic||died in office|
|48||Isidore Larguier III||1913||1913||Democratic||acting mayor|
|49||Alex Grouchy, Jr.||1913||1922||Democratic||1913: appointed, by city council|
|50||Turner Bynum||1922||1922||Democratic||died in office|
|51||Louis J. Ricaud||1922||1923||Democratic||acting mayor|
|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|
|54||Sargent Powers Higginbotham||1944||1953||Democratic||1944: appointed, by Gov. Jimmie Davis; final mayor; 1949: first mayor-president|
|55||Jesse Lynn Webb, Jr.||1953||1956||Democratic||died in office|
|56||Frank J. McConnell||1956||1956||Democratic||acting mayor|
|57||Mary Estus Jones Webb||1956||1957||Democratic||appointed, by city council; first female mayor|
|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; 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, effectively making the Holt and Elam administrations a rump government.