Darlene Riley announces her candidacy for St. James Parish Council, District 2

Published 8:45 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

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LUTCHER — Darlene Riley has a heart for service. For 12 years she served as the Alderman-At-Large for the Town of Lutcher and now she is hoping to serve citizens as the Council Member for St. James Parish District 2.

“It is with gratefulness and humility that I announce my candidacy,” said Riley, who qualified for the election last week. “I am a lifelong resident of St. James Parish and I believe together we can build a stronger and more prosperous St. James Parish. To do that, we need a Council that addresses the needs of the community rather than their own agenda.”

The election is set for October 14.

Riley has already left a footprint of work in Lutcher. She worked to get blighted property cleaned and brought up to standard; as well as improved lighting by working with Entergy on the installation of 70 percent of the streetlights that were out of compliance.

“Together we have done some amazing things to transform our community. We improve our streets, drainage, and infrastructure. We improved King Avenue to be a source of pride for our community and to live up to its namesake,” she said. “Every step of the way we have been in this together, but there is still so much work that needs to be done.”

Riley has always sought to include citizens in the solutions for the community. As an alderman she initiated the Community Advocate System, allowing citizens the opportunity to effectively communicate their concerns to the Board.

She oversaw many special projects that included Make a Difference Day and Adopt a Spot to get the community involved in reducing litter and blight.

“ I coordinated community-wide trash bashes encouraging and including student participation by inviting various clubs of the schools to become involved in keeping Lutcher beautiful and I am willing to expand these efforts across the entire parish,” Riley said.

She was appointed in 2016 by former President Timothy Roussel  to the Keep St. James Beautiful Board  and again in 2020 by Parish President Peter Dufresne. She continues to serve on that board and  other parish-wide boards that include the Council of Aging/Community Action Block Grant Board; her role as chairperson for St. James Parish Government Emergency Food & Shelter Advisory Board; and as an alternate on Koch Methanol St. James Advisory Board.

Riley has spent 18 years working with youth for St. James Parish School Board, along with decades of service to youth in her church. She intends to make them a focal point of her campaign because she realizes they are the future of the parish.

“I understand that investing in our youth and their safety is important in every community,” she said. “It is extremely important to expose and inspire our children and to educate parents concerning resources that are available to them.”

Riley is an ordained minister at First Community Antioch Baptist Church. She is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit mentoring organization, Warm Hands-Warm Hearts. The organization is dedicated to youth ages 13-18 attending Lutcher and St. James high schools. She has also established a scholarship in honor of her son called the Steven Anthony Riley Scholarship Award. It is given to students who display positive character and maintain an average grade point average.

Her education includes being a graduate of Lutcher High School and Southern University in Baton Rouge where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech and Drama with a minor in Journalism. She is also a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where she received a certificate in Biblical Teaching.

Riley has worked professionally as a claims adjuster customer representative for State Group Benefits and Gulf South Health plan for 23 years.

She understands the importance of communications, which involves analytical and interpersonal skills.

“As a councilman there is need to have the ability to think critically to render decisions that are in the best interest of the community and I’m prepared to do that,” she said.

Riley is the proud wife of Steven A. Riley, Sr., and loving mother of two children, Steven A. Riley, Jr. (deceased) and Danielle Riley. She is also the caring grandmother of two grandchildren, Daylen and Dylan Lartigue.

She is a member of Epsilon Phi Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

Riley knows she cannot do this work alone and understands that it takes people working together to improve the parish.

“This fall we are in this together again. Please vote for someone who believes in you, who believes in us and who believes in St. James Parish. Because truly we are better together.”

She is hoping the citizens of District 2 will stand with her to ensure a safe and better place to live, work, and play.