Voters across Louisiana will turn out Saturday to elect a new state treasurer, as well as weigh in on local races and tax initiatives.
New Orleans lawyer Derrick Edwards, the Democratic candidate, faces former state Rep. John Schroder, a Republican residential real estate developer from Covington, in the contest that will determine who fills out the remaining two years of John N. Kennedy’s term.
The race has generated little interest among voters and Secretary of State Tom Schedler predicts no more than 13 percent of Louisiana’s 2.97 million registered voters to cast ballots. “The office of treasurer is critical to our state’s financial stability and choosing a statewide elected official is something we should all weigh in on by voting,” Schedler said.
The treasurer acts as the state’s banker, depositing all the tax, fees and other revenues the state collects; then writing the checks to pay the bills. When the money is not in use, a treasurer makes short-term investments. A treasurer also chairs the State Bond Commission. The state treasurer is fourth in the line of gubernatorial succession.
Edwards led a field of six candidates in the Oct. 14 primary with 125,503 votes — about 29,000 more than Schroder. But 170,789 voters cast ballots for other Republican candidates.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Voters should bring a picture identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or Louisiana Special ID card. Voters without an ID will be required to fill out an affidavit, but will be allowed to vote.
In the Baton Rouge area, there are several tax proposals on the ballot. Visit Baton Rouge is asking voters in East Baton Rouge Parish — but excluding those in parts of north Baton Rouge, Zachary, Baker and Central — to impose a 2 percent hotel sales tax on hotel rooms to pay for tourism initiatives and renovations at the Raising Cane's River Center. Visit Baton Rouge wants to use its share of the money to lure sports tournaments and business conferences to the area.
Voters in parts of both East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes will consider fire tax proposals, while many Livingston voters will consider the fate of sales and property tax proposals to fund drainage improvements.
Residents in Denham Springs will consider a special election for a new city council member. Laura Schmitt Smith and Ray Riley are competing for a seat on the council that was left open when Chris Davis left for a job in Mississippi earlier this year. In Baton Rouge, voters in some parts of the city will choose between lawyers Judy Moore Vendetto and Chris Hester for a seat on the City Court bench.
Ascension Parish voters will consider a proposed change to the home rule charter that deals with government employee appeals to the Parish Council. If adopted, the measure on the ballot would require that the council get a two-thirds vote of the members present for employee appeals to overturn administration disciplinary decisions.
In Lafayette, voters will consider two property tax renewals that they rejected in April. Those renewals generate about $10 million annually for the courthouse complex and parish jail. Lafayette officials have argued they are crucial for operation of those facilities and otherwise they would be forced to dip into the city-parish's general fund, forcing cuts in those areas and elsewhere in government operations. Voters will also be asked whether to divert part of a public health millage to drainage, which city-parish officials want to use to clear out 600 miles of coulees.
Advocate staff writer Caroline Grueskin contributed to this report.