All six candidates vying for Louisiana’s newly drawn Senate District 2 agree that training the state’s workforce to fill existing jobs will be a start to spurring growth.
Democrats Troy E. Brown, George Grace Jr., state Rep. Elton Aubert, who is leaving the District 58 seat, and Mike Bell face Republicans Zaine “The Queen” Kasem and Al Carter in the Oct. 22 election.
The youngest candidate at 22, Kasem said she favors national and global marketing campaigns to improve the state’s image, and innovative partnerships to create local, national and worldwide business incentives.
She said she would create a “Special Business Resource Fund” for business incentives and needs assessments, and would remove state taxes that make Louisiana less competitive.
“Education and a well-trained workforce is the foundation of any and all successful economic development, which would assist in eradicating poverty,” she said.
All candidates see jobs as the biggest need of the district, and Carter sees oil and gas as the way back to work.
“The moratorium (on certain offshore drilling) must be lifted, not just in theory, but in practice,” he said. Carter said he favors cutting “the chains off” the oil-and-gas industry.
Carter said he would try to find ways to cut waste in government, and said state and federal assistance programs should be tied to ongoing efforts to seek work, complete job training or pursue an education.
He also favors low- or no-interest loans and grants to small businesses, and wants to develop a 10-15 year economic plan with the input of educational, business, industry and government leaders.
Both Bell and Grace said they would like to see the so-called Stelly Plan reconsidered in light of the state’s budget crisis.
“Or at least a modification of Stelly,” Grace said. “We should establish a timeline to keep that in place until the deficit is diminished.”
Named after its chief sponsor, then-state Rep. Vic Stelly, R-Lake Charles, the voter-approved plan reduced sales taxes for lower-income Louisiana residents, and replaced that loss of state revenues by widening brackets to capture more state income taxes.
Economists and some financial leaders have pointed to the changes in the original Stelly Plan as a major contributor to the billion-dollar shortfalls in state government revenues over the past few years.
Grace said he is against cuts to education, adding that an investment in education would increase earning potential, and eventually, state revenue from those earnings. He said he favors programs that would create partnerships between high schools and area industrial plants for job-training efforts.
“I believe in funding education, and in funding programs that will help people get jobs,” he said. “We’re fortunate in the River parishes. Jobs are there; we just need to get local people to work there.”
Bell said he favors alternative sentencing to reduce spending at the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
He also said spending cuts should be equal across all branches of government.
Bell said he also sees job training and education as keys to economic recovery, yet the cost of getting an education, whether that be at the state’s colleges and universities, or community and technical colleges, is becoming more unaffordable for those students who qualify academically.
He said he favors creating a Rural River Development Commission that would fund economic development projects and job training for adults.
Bell said he also favors creation of a “Children’s Zone” that would provide a supportive, college-oriented environment as “a counterweight to ‘the street’ and anti-social behavior.”
Troy Brown said he agrees that linking people with jobs is important, and said the state should invest in recruiting new businesses, supporting small business start-ups, and making affordable job training available.
The sugar industry, he added, should be maintained and expanded. “This industry is a staple of Louisiana since it is a strong revenue-producer here,” he said.
Brown said he sees so-called “sin” taxes as discriminatory. “Smokers or gamblers as well as any other sub-group population should not have to bear the responsibilities of our state’s shortcomings,” he said. He said he also favors spending cuts, adding that the state’s payroll is “grossly out of line with other states of similar size.”
Elton M. Aubert also said the state must keep down the cost of doing business in Louisiana, and fully fund economic development and job training.
Aubert said jobs are the single greatest need in the district, “but infrastructure improvement and increased capacity would run a close second.”
He said he doesn’t think taxes are the answer to addressing the state’s declining revenue, but he would consider a small increase in cigarette and alcohol taxes, “only if dedicated to health care and educating our teens on the effects of alcohol and tobacco on their health.”
Aubert said he favors recruiting businesses that require both skilled and unskilled workers, increasing school performance scores and providing training opportunities for low-income students.
ELTON M. AUBERT
EDUCATION: Attended Nicholls State University.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: State representative; St. James Parish Council; Police Jury Association of Louisiana’s Executive
MICHAEL ‘MIKE’ BELL
EDUCATION: B.A., LSU; J.D., Southern University Law Center.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Staff Attorney for Louisiana Senate; Congressional aide to former Congressman Don Cazayoux; legislative assistant.
TROY E. BROWN
EDUCATION: A.S., B.S., Southern University.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Ran campaign for state Representative District 58 in 2007, making it into the runoff election.
ALFRED ‘AL’ CARTER
EDUCATION: A.S., Delgado Community College; B.A., Southeastern Louisiana University; M.A., Nicholls State University.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.
GEORGE L. GRACE JR.
Democrat, St. Gabriel.
EDUCATION: B.A., University of Southern Mississippi; J.D., Southern University.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.
ZAINE ‘THE QUEEN’ KASEM
Republican, St. Gabriel.
22, judicial administrative assistant, paralegal, licensed real-estate agent.
EDUCATION: Attended Baton Rouge Community College; attending LSU (graduating December 2011).
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Ran for St. Gabriel City Council at 18 years old.
WHERE TO VOTE
Ward/Precinct and location
30 American Legion Hall Post 81
36 Gonzales Middle
37 Gonzales Middle
39 Darrow Community Center
44 Marchand School
45 Modeste Fire Station
47 Ascension Parish Health Unit
48 Old Donaldsonville Elementary
49 Old Donaldsonville Elementary
50 New Donaldsonville Elementary
51 National Guard Armory
52 Donaldsonville High
53 Lowery Intermediate
54 Donaldsonville Housing Authority
55 Donaldsonville High
56 National Guard Armory
57 Donaldsonville Housing Authority
60 Dutchtown High
74 New Donaldsonville Elementary
75 American Legion Hall Post 81
1-1 Belle Rose Primary
1-2 Assumption Catholic Hall
2-1 Agricultural Complex Office/ Warehouse
2-2 Labadieville Middle
2-5 Labadieville Primary
4-1 Labadieville Primary
4-2 Labadieville Volunteer Fire Dept.
4-3 Labadieville Middle
5-1 Napoleonville Volunteer Fire Dept.
5-2 Napoleonville Middle
5-5 St. Elizabeth School Gym
6-1 St. Elizabeth School Gym
6-1 A St. Elizabeth School Gym
6-2 St. Benedict de Moore Church Hall
6-3 Belle Rose Middle
7-1 Belle Rose Middle
7-1 A Belle Rose Middle
7-4 Belle Rose Primary
1 White Castle Community Center
7 Bayou Goula Volunteer Fire Dept.
8 Point Pleasant Recreational Building
10 St. Gabriel Library
11 Recreation Building
12 Gillis Long Hansen Disease Center
13 E.J. Gay School
13B E.J. Gay School
13C E.J. Gay School
14A Plaquemine Junior High Concession Stand
22 Plaquemine Lions Club
1-2 Louisiana Technical College
1-2A Thibodaux High
1-3 Louisiana Technical College
1-3A Thibodaux High
1-3B Thibodaux High
1-3C Thibodaux High
1-4 W.S. LaFargue School
2-1 North Thibodaux Fire Station
2-1A North Thibodaux Fire Station
2-3 West Thibodaux Fire Station
2-3A West Thibodaux Fire Station
2-3B Thibodaux High
2-3C Thibodaux High
2-3D Thibodaux High
2-4 West Thibodaux Fire Station
2-4A West Thibodaux Fire Station
2-5 First Baptist Church
2-7 St. Joseph Life Center
2-9 Louisiana Technical College
2-10 South Thibodaux Fire Station
5-1 The Opportunity Place - North Campus
5-1A The Opportunity Place - North Campus
5-1B The Opportunity Place - North Campus
5-1C Thibodaux High
St. Charles Parish
1-1 Killona Fire House
St. James Parish
1 Gramercy Town Hall
1A Gramercy Town Hall
2 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 School Band Building
5B Lutcher Elementary School Band Building
6 St. James Parish - Lutcher Senior Center
7 Lutcher Elementary School Band Building
7A Lutcher Elementary School Band Building
12 Union-Convent Volunteer Fire Station
13 Fifth Ward Elementary
14 St. James High School Cafeteria
15 St. James Courthouse Annex
15A St. James Courthouse Annex
15B St. James Courthouse Annex
15C St. James Courthouse Annex
16 St. James Courthouse Annex
16A West Bank Operations Building
16B Vacherie Elementary School Auditorium
17 Vacherie Elementary School Auditorium
17A Vacherie Elementary School Auditorium
17B Vacherie Elementary School Auditorium
18 Vacherie Elementary School Auditorium
St. John the Baptist Parish
1-2 Edgard Courthouse
1-3 Wallace Fire Station
1-4 John L. Ory Elementary
1-5 Milesville Special School
1-6 Milesville Special School
1-7 Milesville Special School
2-1 Garyville Magnet School
2-2 Garyville Magnet School
2-3 St. Peter’s School
2-4 St. Peter’s School
2-5 St. Peter’s School
2-6 Parish Health Unit
3-1 Parish Health Unit
3-2 Fifth Ward Elementary
3-3 Fifth Ward Elementary
3-4 East St. John High
3-6 East St. John High
4-1 St. Joan of Arc Family Life Center
4-3 St. Joan of Arc Family Life Center
4-9 St. Joan of Arc Family Life Center
West Baton Rouge Parish
1B Addis Fire Station
2A Brusly Elementary
2B Brusly Elementary
6 Brusly Fire Station No. 3
7A Brusly Fire Station No. 3
7B Brusly Fire Station No. 3
8 Lukeville Upper Elementary
10A Port Allen City Court
10B Port Allen City Court
11A K.C. Hall
11B K.C. Hall
12 K.C. Hall
13A Cohn Elementary School Gym
13B Cohn Elementary School Gym
14 Port Allen Fire Station No. 2
15 Cohn Elementary School Gym