Former Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Darrell Ourso won by 72 votes a special runoff election to represent southeast Baton Rouge neighborhoods in the Louisiana Legislature.
With all 29 precincts reporting Saturday night, Ourso had 1,958 votes, or 50.9 percent of the total cast, to Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso’s 1,886 ballots.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler expected a low turnout, and only 12.5 percent of the registered voters in House District 66 cast ballots.
Amoroso and Ourso, both Republicans, competed to fill out the remaining eight months in the term of Hunter Greene, who stepped down as state representative after being elected to the family court bench. Ourso will have to run again at the end of the year for a full four-year term.
Ourso, 50, is a financial adviser who lives in the Evergreen Acres neighborhood and served on the Baton Rouge Metro Council from 1999 to 2008. He is an executive board member of the Istrouma Area Council that oversees Boy Scout troops in the area. He also is on the board of commissioners for the St. George Fire Protection District.
“Our message was positive from the beginning and remained positive. The voters responded to that,” Ourso said Saturday night. He likely will take his oath in the next few days and hopes for a seat on the Transportation or Appropriations committees.
House District 66 stretches from Interstate 12 to Bayou Manchac, including Woodland Ridge, Old Jefferson, Santa Maria, Tiger Bend, the Country Club of Louisiana and many of the neighborhoods that would make up the city of St. George, if the residents there voted to incorporate.
The 29 precincts of House District 66 have 30,779 people eligible to vote in Saturday’s election. A total of 24,471 registered voters are white — almost 80 percent — and 49 percent, 14,982, are registered as Republicans, one of the state’s highest concentrations.
Amoroso, 57, is a property manager who lives in the Lake Sherwood Acres neighborhood and serves on the Baton Rouge Metro Council. He’s one of the founders of the anti-tax advocacy group Tax Busters and a former member of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Commission.
Ourso goes into legislative session on April 13. The session promises to be sharp, with the state facing a $1.6 billion deficit and a plan forwarded by Gov. Bobby Jindal that has many legislators anxious because it relies on passing a number controversial auxiliary bills to access the necessary revenues.
In addition, emboldened by Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, opponents of Common Core will make a stab at withdrawing the state’s public schools from the program demanding higher academic standards that can be compared with other states. Legislators last year swatted back almost a dozen such rollback efforts.
Taxes and Common Core were the two issues on which the otherwise similar candidates differed.
Amoroso said he would oppose any revenue-raising effort that hinted of a tax increase and would support any effort to kill Common Core, no matter what.
Ourso argued that leaders need to be flexible enough to consider all options and said Common Core is a matter the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees public school policy, should decide, not the Legislature.
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