While current Clerk of Court Doug Welborn is hoping to secure an eighth term, Baton Rouge Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis is asking voters to usher in a new era of civil service by electing her to take his place as the Clerk of Court for East Baton Rouge Parish. The East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court office has no term limits.
“I am offering myself to the people of Baton Rouge,” said Collins-Lewis. The councilwoman is ready to use her experience and knowledge to make some changes at the Clerk of Court office.
Collins-Lewis, a Democrat, was elected to the Metro Council in 2009 and her last term is coming to an end. Throughout her many years with the council, she introduced and voted in favor of resolutions specifically geared at improving the lives of Baton Rouge residents. More recently, she’s gone against the status quo and chaired a committee that drafted changes for the city’s plan of government.
She’s done everything from helping tackle missed garbage and recycling complaints, supporting House Bill 422 to raise the state’s minimum wage, and pushing to protect renter’s rights against landlords. Collins-Lewis’ history speaks for itself; the people are the priority.
The councilwoman is not seeking new office merely because her time with the council is up, but because she feels she has the opportunity to restore the public’s trust in the Clerk of Court.
“When I looked at some of the things that have been happening, I felt that it was time for the office to have new leadership,”Collins-Lewis said. “Not so much as a switch [of office] but wanting to continue my service to uphold excellent models of accountability in public office.”
The councilwoman’s opponent and current clerk of court, Doug Welborn, has been accused of fraudulent spending and behavior in the office on numerous occasions.
According to the Advocate, in 2017, a longtime employee of the office accused Welborn of making employees to pitch in $50 to $100 in cash for Welborn’s birthday and Christmas presents. The employee, Wilton Davis, also claims that each employee was required to donate $250 to Welborn’s re-election campaign in 2015.
In 2015, the Advocate also detailed $93,000 in expenses on the Clerk’s Office credit card and that $29,000 of those expenses were used on food. $46,000 was used on hotel stays, many of which were at casinos.
Though the office passed their audits and no charges were brought against Welborn, it is up to the public to decide whether or not they approve of the office’s spending. For Collins-Lewis, the choice is clear. If she takes office, she will immediately open an audit and full report on the office, its employees, and their spending.
Collins-Lewis will be the first Afircan-American and the first woman to be the Clerk of Court in Baton Rouge if elected.
“I plan on making history on October 12,” said Collins-Lewis.