Last January, it took Michael Gaudet a week to break a deadlock among members of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board and get one more vote to top rival Belinda Davis and be appointed to the board. On election day Saturday, he sought to seal the deal with voters, it wasn’t close at all.
Gaudet, a 64-year-old Republican who retired in 2014 as vice president of Albemarle, persuaded 61 percent of Saturday’s voters in District 7 to push the button for him, according to complete but unofficial results.
Davis, an associate professor of public policy at LSU, earned 34 percent of the vote. The third candidate in the race, Brian Adams, an administrator with the teacher placement group, Teach For America, finished third with just 5 percent.
All three were running for office for the first time, and all three sought the job in January.
A retired Albemarle vice president, an LSU professor active in fighting the southeast Baton …
Gaudet’s win means he can now serve the remainder of the term of Barbara Freiberg, who vacated the District 7 seat after being elected to the Metro Council in December. That School Board term expires 14 months from now on Dec. 31, 2018. Gaudet will have to face voters again in a year if wants to keep the job.
Gaudet said he was “cautiously confident” he would win, but he wasn’t sure what voters would actually show up Saturday.
“We’ve learned a whole lot through this process,” he said. “We’ll be a lot smarter next time around. It was a great learning experience.”
Gaudet complimented Davis for running “a good clean race.”
“This race brought out people with passion about education and I want to keep those passion going,” Gaudet said.
Three candidates seeking to replace Barbara Freiberg on the East Baton Rouge Parish School B…
District 7 is one of nine seats on the parish School Board, which oversees more than 80 public schools and almost 41,000 schoolchildren, making it the second largest school system in Louisiana.
The district stretches from LSU in the west to Kenilworth Parkway and Gardere Lane in the east. Its northern boundary mostly follows Perkins Road, though at one point it jogs north to take in part of the Garden District. It is bounded on the south by the Mississippi River.
Turnout Saturday in District 7 was low, just 18.7 percent, which is less than half of the 47.7 percent of voters in the district who showed up on Nov. 4, 2014, to re-elect Freiberg to a second term.
Seven of the district's 21 precincts saw less than 5 percent turnout. They were six of the seven precincts that Davis won; in one precinct, Gaudet and Davis tied with just 12 votes each. Gaudet won all but one of the 14 higher voting precincts.
Still District’s 7 turnout Saturday was higher than other races on the ballot, including the the state treasurer’s race, the highest profile race Saturday.
A week made all the difference in unlocking a deadlocked East Baton Rouge Parish School Boar…
Davis, 46, said “I did everything they tell you to do,” but it proved hard to energize her potential voters for a special election.
“I don’t enjoy losing, but as I told my son when you believe in something, it’s always good that you did it," she said.
Davis said she will think awhile about whether she wants to do this all again next year, but she plans to remain visible and active regardless, as she has in the past.
“I’m not going anywhere, I’m still going to be at the School Board meetings and at the Legislature advocate for our kids," she said. "Losing a race doesn’t change that.”