Mayor Mayson Foster wraps up third term for Hammond

After three terms of leading the community, Mayor Mason Foster, who has been in office since 2003, will not be running for re-election.

Born and bred in Hammond, Foster graduated from Southeastern with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and then attended several graduate schools. Before being voted in as mayor, he also served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Citizens National Bank until 1996 and Division Manager with the Hancock Bank of Louisiana.

According to the rules of local politics, Foster is only allowed to serve the position of mayor for three terms. Though he will miss the position since he “loves [his] job,” he has a positive view of his contributions to the management of the city, citing the improvement of the downtown area since he took office over a decade ago. He is especially proud of the local mall and airport.

“I think we have been very successful,” said Foster. “When we took office in 2003, we literally had buildings falling down in downtown Hammond. The mall was having a difficult time, and there were a number of issues. Now we have a thriving downtown Hammond with 500 people living there. We have a thriving Hammond Square Mall and our airport is second to none in general aviation facilities.”

Loretta Severan, director of human resources in Hammond, agreed. She believes Foster’s greatest accomplishments are his improvement of the community build project as well as his adoption of the Comprehensive Classification and Comprehension Plan.

“Our parks and recreation equipment afforded the community a well-built park area,” said Severan. “[Before that] some parks were missing swings and other equipment. Now they’re up to par. [Another great accomplishment was] the adoption of the Comprehensive Classification and Comprehension Plan, so employees in Hammond are paid within the market value of their job and classified properly for their job.”

Severan feels Foster’s other noteworthy accomplishments include the appointment of Dr. Mattise Jones, who is the first African-American director of administration. However, Kenneth Harris, a mayoral candidate running against Pete Panepinto, felt Foster largely neglected Hammond’s African-American population.

“The City of Hammond should reflect all the people it serves,” said Harris. “When you go downtown Hammond, there aren’t any African-American businesses. Maybe one or two, but we’re talking about a large number of businesses from the African-American community. I say shame on the mayor for not reaching out to the black community and not providing the necessary resources for people of color to be successful.”

Though he is prohibited from running a third time, Foster has great hopes for Hammond’s continued growth and prosperity. He especially hopes to see the city partner up with the university. He sees the university as the city’s “largest partner” according to the Hammond website and believes that this partnership will make the community even better.

“I hope the city can continue to grow and prosper with continual sales tax increases,” said Foster. “I hope Hammond will work closely with Southeastern Louisiana University because it is our very best part. I hope we can find a way to expand the city limits beyond our borders to provide services to others adjacent to our city.”

Out of all of his potential successors, Foster would most like to see Pete Panepinto, the current director of administration for the city, take the office as mayor of Hammond due to his level of experience in business.

“Pete [Panepinto is] a great choice because he brings a business background and he was a licensed contractor,” said Foster. “He will be able to deal with most of the challenges that come up every day. 

Of course, there was one more qualification which Foster felt made Panepinto perfectly ideal as Hammond’s next leader.

“He is a Southeastern graduate,” said Foster. “And that means he must be a good guy.”

For more information on or to get in touch with members of the Hammond city administration, visit their website at hammond.org.