Five candidates seeking election to the District 81 seat of the Louisiana House of Representatives are promising reductions in state spending and efforts to improve roads and attract jobs.
Kevin Hull, Laura O’Halloran, Clay Schexnayder, Don Wheat and Gillis Windham are running in the Oct. 22 primary for a new seat with no incumbent. If a runoff election is needed, it will be held Nov. 19.
All five candidates have strong anti-tax sentiments and stated desires to reduce the size of state government.
All said they see fees as taxes, but some also view state spending on infrastructure improvements in their growing district as the single greatest need. Others cited jobs and infrastructure or jobs alone.
“The single greatest need in District 81 is jobs,” said Hull. He noted St. James and St. John parishes have unemployment rates at roughly 10 percent or greater.
House 81 formerly was located in Jefferson Parish and had been represented by Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie. David Duke was elected to the House 81 seat in the late 1980s.
On economic development, O’Halloran, who is a founder of the River Parishes Tea Party and is involved with other tea party groups, said she would like to eliminate the state income tax on individuals and businesses by Jan. 1, 2013.
“Without an income tax and all of the compliance costs associated with it, this will help businesses reinvest in their products and create additional jobs,” said O’Halloran, who is also district director for Americans for Fair Taxation and has signed an anti-tax pledge with the group.
O’Halloran said she would institute a new, non-regressive state sales tax of less than 1 percent to replace some of the states lost income tax revenue. But that tax would also be gradually eliminated.
She said her plan would not require an increase in property taxes, avoiding high property taxes seen in other states with no income tax.
Wheat said he would like to promote the use of all of the state’s natural resources, including but not limited to exploration and production of oil and natural gas resources.
Windham and Schexnayder said they believe reducing regulation on businesses can help drive economic growth, but they also said they see a need to cut taxes.
“I believe business benefits when people have the expendable income to invest in their homes, to make improvements and expand their opportunities,” Schexnayder said.
Hull said he would like to see more incentives for businesses to grow and to try to diversify the economy.
On budget cutting, Schexnayder said he would work to implement responsible, conservative policies that lessen government involvement.
He said he would also review options for privatization, creative financing and public-private investment opportunities.
Wheat said he has a similar desire to cut spending.
“I am against big government,” he said.
The candidates said they see education and various moves to spur job creation — including tax cuts — and job training as the means of reducing the state’s poverty rate, the second-worst in the nation in 2010.
“Education, economic development and job creation is the best solution to decrease poverty,” said Windham.
Democrat, Port Vincent.
48, Honeywell electrical/instrumentation.
EDUCATION: Opelousas Catholic High; air conditioning refrigeration and electrical/instrumentation apprenticeship, T.H. Harris Vocational Technical School.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: No elected office, advocate for sportsmen’s rights.
Republican, Denham Springs.
EDUCATION: Health insurance and real estate appraisal licenses; business administration studies, SLU.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Never held elected office; tea party official.
42, Sorrento business owner.
EDUCATION: French Settlement High School; automotive technology certification, Allen Institute of Atlanta.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Never held public office.
51, Colyell Community Water operation manager; District 7 volunteer firefighter; businessman.
EDUCATION: Doyle High School; state certified drinking-water system operator and certified first responder.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: District 6 member, Livingston Parish Council.
61, mayor of Killian.
EDUCATION: University of Southern Mississippi; School of Banking of the South, LSU.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Five-term Killian mayor.
WHERE TO VOTE
Ward/Precinct and location
35 St. Amant Elementary
40 Marchand School
13A Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau
14 Springfield High
15 Killian Voting Precinct
16 Maurepas School New Gym
17 Fire District No. 9 Station No. 2
18 French Settlement Elementary
18A French Settlement Elementary
19 Frost Elementary
19A Frost Elementary
21 Gray’s Creek Elementary
22 Fire District No. 8 Substation
31 Springfield High
32 Killian Voting Precinct
33 Port Vincent Village Hall
34 French Settlement Town Hall
38 Springfield High
43 French Settlement Elementary
St. James Parish
1 Gramercy Town Hall
3 Gramercy Elementary
3A Gramercy Elementary
4 St. James Parish-Lutcher Senior Center
5 St. James Parish-Lutcher Senior Center
5A Lutcher Elementary Band Building
6 St. James Parish-Lutcher Senior Center
9 Grand Point Fire Station
9A Grand Point Fire Station
St. John the Baptist Parish
2-1 Garyville Magnet
2-2 Garyville Magnet
2-3 St. Peter’s School
2-4 St. Peter’s School
2-6 Parish Health Unit
3-1 Parish Health Unit