Carroll Lanier

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Carroll_Edwin Lanier


In office
June 1977​ – December 1982​
Preceded by John K. Snyder
Succeeded by John K. Snyder​

Alexandria Commissioner
of Finance and Utilities ​
In office
June 1969​ – June 1973​
Preceded by Leroy Wilson​
Succeeded by Arnold Jack Rosenthal

Born November 5, 1926​
Hamburg, Ashley County
Arkansas, USA​
Died December 4, 2012 (aged 86)​
Alexandria, Louisiana​
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Ball in Rapides Parish​
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Winifred C. "Wendy" Lanier ​
Children Brian Lanier (deceased)​

Kathy Lanier Miller
​ Theresa Louise Lanier Massey
​ Steve Lanier
​ Six grandchildren​
Parents:
Morrell B. and Effie Sivals Lanier​

Alma mater Bolton High School (Alexandria)​
Occupation Electrical contractor​

United States Navy in World War II

Religion Southern Baptist

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

Background

​ Lanier was born to Morrell B. Lanier (1897-1980) and the former Effie Sivals (1901-1975) 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.[1][2]

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 a dozen or more Louisiana cities in which the municipal government owns and operates the utilities 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.​

An extended term as mayor

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 contest, which called the general election in Louisiana.[1] Eliminated in the primary were Champ Baker, 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, 8,420votes (68 percent) to 3,934 (32 percent). Upon taking office, 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 Hébert, a registered mechanical engineer, as the head of the new Department of Public Works under the city charter.​ After Hébert 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 pleased the business community through his attempt 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 the north-south 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 Long of Alexandria. Lanier supported the construction of the performing arts center downtown, named for civic figure F. Hugh Coughlin, 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 petroleum 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 9th Judicial District Court Judge William A. Culpepper. Lanier particularly angered sanitation workers when he declared that their pace of work was too slow and threatened to privatize the department 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 near Boyce in northern Rapides Parish. 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 Representative and state Senator Ned Randolph, who served for a record twenty years.[5]

Later years

From 1988 until his retirement in 2000, former Mayor 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 is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Ball, north of Pineville.​

Lanier was survived by his wife, Winifred C. "Wendy" Lanier (born February 26, 1930); two daughters, Kathy Lanier Miller and Theresa Louise Lanier Massey (born 1961), and a son, Steve C. Lanier (born 1954). Another son, Brian D. 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, who from 1977 to 1986, was one of the first two at-large members of the Alexandria City Council under the current municipal charter, said on Lanier's death: ​

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

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Cynthia D. Jardon. Former Alexandria Mayor Carroll Lanier dies at 86. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on December 5, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Carroll E. Lanier obituary. The Alexandria Town Talk (December 5, 2012). Retrieved on December 5, 2012.
  3. Obituary of Anthony D'Angelo, The Alexandria 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 on December 7, 2012.
​​

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