Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
GRETNA, La. - As early voting kicks off, candidates in one of the hottest races are hitting the streets to campaign.
Gretna residents will elect a new mayor this year for the first time in more than two decades.
Across Gretna, campaign signs are posted on lawns and businesses. There are two weeks to go before the April 6 election, and two city councilmembers are vying for the seat that will be left open when Mayor Ronnie Harris retires after seven terms.
Belinda Constant is going door to door throughout the city. She wants to fix an aging infrastructure, make theGretna City Hall more user friendly, and grow Gretna's tax base.
'That's what shows a sure sign of growth and viability in a community,' said Constant.
Vincent Cox is also canvassing neighborhoods. A city councilman for 25 years, he says leading the city is a lifelong dream. He want to reign in spending and make government more efficient.
'They want us to keep public safety a priority and they want us to manage their money, those are the things I'm hearing the most' said Cox.
As councilmembers, both candidates said they're aligned on most issues but believe their experiences make them unique.
'Diversity in background [sets me apart from my opponent],' said Constant. 'Government administration and the experience there. Business owner for 15 years.'
'My experience on the council and the initiatives I've had and the projects I've completed, I think those are things that set us apart,' said Cox.
In her six years on the council, Constant worked to promote the city through a farmer's market, a fall concert series, and Gretna Fest.
Previously, she served as administrator for the Jefferson Parish drug court and ran a school for court reporting.
'I think carrying that experience with me is a tremendous asset,' said Constant.
Cox says his biggest accomplishments on the council are helping to fix the city's drainage issues in the 80s and spearheading the Mel Ott Multipurpose Center, which opened today.
'Gretna's on the rise, and we just got to keep working to get it there,' said Cox.
Both candidates hope to continue the current mayor's legacy and hope residents will cast their vote April 6.
Early voting runs throughMarch 30. Polls are open from 8:30 a.m. through 6 p.m. except on Good Friday.
Some of the other big races include mayor and city council in Westwego, and a council race in Gretna.