This story is part of a three-part series about the candidates who want the job of the city’s mayor. Every week we learn why the three candidates want the job.
As a 12-year-old, David McDavid got his first job with the city of Zachary – helping clean ditches and canals during the summers.
McDavid would grow to be Zachary’s chief of police, a position he has held for the past 11 years. Now he’s aiming for the city’s top job as one of three candidates running for mayor in the fall election.
With nearly four decades in law enforcement service, McDavid is at the forefront of addressing challenges that have arisen over the years as Zachary has evolved from a small town into a growing city. He believes this experience makes him the best person to lead Zachary into the future.
“I understand Zachary,” said McDavid, a Republican. “I’ve been here since 1969. I understand people.”
McDavid’s opponents are Francis Nezianya, non-partisan, and Laura O’Brien, a fellow Republican. Nezianya and O’Brien both serve on the Zachary City Council.
McDavid spent his career with the Zachary Police Department, first joining the agency at age 18 as a reserve officer. A few years later, in 1988, he became a full-time officer, and in 2011 he was elected chief of police for the first time.
“I know where every pothole is, every flood area,” he said. “I have moved in these areas throughout my career. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.”
In terms of solving these types of problems, McDavid said he will try to find funding by reordering budget priorities, seeking grants and asking for federal and state support. He said he will be working closely with the borough to ensure the canals it owns in the area are cleaned and that East Baton Rouge borough roads are maintained.
To ease traffic congestion on La. 64, he wants to build another west-east route through the area. Much land has already been cleared near the Comite River Diversion Canal, which is under construction, and could be a good site for such a road. “We have to make sure we have that to decongest downtown,” he said.
McDavid believes the city needs to catch up on these kinds of infrastructure improvements before inviting any more new housing developments to Zachary.
“You might need to look at a moratorium,” he said, an idea his opponents say they oppose.
McDavid said he will also be investigating adjoining properties in the Zachary area to control growth just outside city limits, where subdivision developers are not bound by Zachary development codes but future residents will still have access to certain city services and their children Zachary Schools can send world-class institutions.
He said he will push for higher standards for new developments — like larger lots, more green space and more amenities for residents — and is considering letting the city conduct its own traffic and flood impact studies rather than accepting those submitted by developers.
He wants to direct dollars to the police department to update crime-fighting technology and to the fire department, which he says needs a new Flanacher Road station and local training facility.
McDavid said he will organize a committee of city planners, real estate professionals, builders and others to recruit businesses in the city. And he would foster relationships between schools, local universities and businesses to help young people find training and career opportunities in Zachary.
Children, including those with special needs, should have more recreational opportunities at Zachary, McDavid said.
“If we keep kids … off the streets and keep them busy academically and recreationally, we’re going to have a great community,” he said.
And he wants to create an app that residents can use to get information about the city and develop a TV channel that will promote Zachary and could play at local hotels.
Born in Ruston in 1965, McDavid was a child when his family moved to Zachary. His father worked for the Illinois Central Railroad for 46 years and was Zachary’s recreational director, and his mother worked for BREC for more than half a century.
When McDavid chose a career in public service, he was inspired by his parents’ commitment to their community. They had taught him an important lesson, he said: “Don’t nag or complain. Join us and find a solution.”
He said he has tried to pass that lesson on to his own three children and to the officers he oversees as police chief.
McDavid graduated from Zachary High School in 1983. His wife, Sherry, is a fellow at Zachary High School.
He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Commanders School. He graduated with a criminal justice degree from Columbia Southern University in 2018 — an endeavor he began years earlier, in 1990, at Southern University.
He said he’s had a fulfilling life and career in Zachary and wants to do whatever it takes to ensure others get the same opportunity.
“Zachary is a great place,” he said. “It raised me. It got me a job.”