Zachary's conservative, strait-laced image is nothing like the Zachary of the 1880s and 1890s, which had a Wild West reputation and six bar rooms along Main Street. By the 1930s, things had changed dramatically, and the Baton Rouge and New Orleans newspapers were lauding Zachary as an excellent place for families to settle.
Along the way, Zachary has had many interesting and colorful Mayors, among other leaders. The vast majority have been honest business people who gave of themselves for four or eight years to serve in city government with little thought of personal gain.
But we have had our share of controversies, tragedies, and exciting characters. The first Mayor was Thomas E. McHugh (1889-1891). Just 100 years later, his descendant, Tom Ed McHugh, served as Metro Councilman and later Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Mayor H. K. Farrar (1891) was granted a leave of absence by the town's Board of Trustees (the City Council) shortly after being elected. The leave of absence was for 30 days, but the Mayor suffered from a severe illness, probably tuberculosis, and soon died, never returning to the job.
Another early Mayor, A. W. Converse (1892-1899), had a bit of good luck. The Trustees voted him a salary of $75 a month. However, Mayor Converse had some serious problems. When running for reelection in October 1893, he was opposed by A. W. Ratcliff, and the two candidates ended up in a 41-41 tie. The matter was somehow settled, and Mayor Converse stayed in office. Unfortunately, the minutes of the Board of Trustees, all of which are preserved at the Zachary Archives, show that the Mayor was absent from the board meeting on March 27, 1899. The entry says, "Mayor A. W. Converse absent (deceased)." The Mayor made a citizen angry over a financial affair, and the citizen shot and killed him.
Over the years, the Loudon family seems to have had a lock in the Mayor's Office. James Bogan Loudon became Mayor upon the death of Mayor Converse. Two months later, J. M. Loudon became Mayor. Mayor J. M. Loudon resigned in 1900 but was back in office in 1902 and resigned again. In 1915, R. E. Loudon was elected Mayor and supposedly served until 1920. In 1920, J. B. Loudon became the Mayor and served until 1930. He was the last Loudon to serve as Mayor.
Three long-serving Mayors were P. P. Kennedy, who served from 1903 to 1915; Marshall Bond, who served from 1932 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1948; and Mayor Stanley N. "Slim" Noble, who served from 1948 until 1966. Noble's salary was a whopping $250 a month.
In 1966, Zachary elected its first Republican Mayor, Jack L. Breaux, who was quite popular — popular enough to help break down some racial barriers during the integration of the school system. Jack Breaux was, in fact, one of the first Republican elected officials in Louisiana and one of the first Republican Mayors in Louisiana since Reconstruction.
Jessie Pendergast III served for a few months as Mayor after the death of Jack Breaux.
The longest-serving and one of Zachary's most popular mayors was John Womack, who served from 1982 to 2003. John began his career as a teacher and coach at Zachary High School. He then served in the Zachary Police Department for 11 years and was the assistant chief of police for six years. A fervent believer in public service, John resigned from his position with the Zachary Police Department. He successfully campaigned for Mayor in a challenging election in 1980, a position he diligently served for 22 years.
In 2003, Charlene Smith was elected and served one term, four years. Charlene was the owner and agency of Charlene Smith Allstate Insurance. She served the community as an executive director of the Zachary Chamber of Commerce and past chamber board president; past co-chairman for Team City Economic Development; past chairman of the Zachary Beautification Committee and past president of the Zachary Rotary Club.
In 2006, Charlene Smith was defeated by Henry Martinez who served for one four-year term. Henry was the owner of a local printing company in Zachary.
On January 11, 2010, Zachary native David Amrhein ran against incumbent Henry Martinez. Amrhein won with 57% of Zachary's 10,000 registered voters. Mayor David Amrhein officially took office on January 10, 2011. He served as a Zachary Council member for eight years from 1999 to 2007 and led the Zachary City Council as Mayor Pro-tempore from 2003 to 2004. David Amrhein was part owner of a successful locally owned family business, Amrhein and Sons Hardware, for over 30 years. Mayor Amrhein served for twelve years, from 2011-2023.
In November 2022, longtime Police Chief David McDavid became the city's next leader, officially taking office on Monday, January 9, 2023. 40% of registered voters participated in this election, with McDavid taking 55%. Before becoming Mayor, McDavid served over four decades with the Zachary Police Department and twelve years as Chief of Police. He graduated from the FBI National Academy and DEA Drug Commanders School, having trained with the best law enforcement officers in the world. He also served as a Delta Narcotics Task Force member for over three decades.
Mayor David McDavid has worked for the City of Zachary in some capacity since he was 12. In 1984, he was a volunteer firefighter and reserve police officer. In 1988 he became a full-time police officer, and in 2011 became the Chief of Police. Mayor David McDavid is a Republican. He is a member of the Zachary Rotary Club and a 1983 graduate of Zachary High School. He is a longtime member of First Baptist Church. David is married to Sherry Jarreau McDavid and is the father of three children, Ricky, Brad, and Ashley. Ricky and his wife, Raquel, have two sons, Trae and Bo, and Brad and his wife, Amanda, have three children, Bradley, Archie, and Alena.