Three Democrats are running for the House District 61 seat being vacated by state Rep. Michael Jackson.

The contenders are Alfred Williams, Donna Collins-Lewis and C. Denise Marcelle.

“I have no desire to run for any other public office,” Williams said.

Collins-Lewis called herself a consensus builder.

“I don’t mind getting out and fighting, standing out in the crowd to help,” she said.

Marcelle said she wants to promote economic development and education.

“And so I would like to be able to have an opportunity to be a policymaker on the state level so that I could affect those areas,” she said.

Marcelle and Williams said tax hikes should be an option amid state budget problems.

“At some point we are going to have to look at tax issues but as little as possible,” Marcelle said.

Williams said he would have supported a 70 cent per package increase in the state cigarette tax — to $1.06 per pack — that died during the 2011 regular legislative session as a way to aid health care.

The increase would have raised more than $100 million per year.

Collins-Lewis said she wants to study the state operating budget “and see where there are places that could be found before taxes are raised.”

Williams said he is unsure whether additional spending reductions are feasible in Louisiana’s $26 billion state operating budget.

“I am not sure that we can cut anymore without cutting some significant services that we need through the state,” he said.

Marcelle said she is unaware of any obvious areas to trim the state budget.

On a related topic, Collins-Lewis said she makes a distinction between fee and tax hikes even though voters generally view them as the same thing.

Marcelle said she draws a line between taxes and fees.

Williams said he does not.

On reducing poverty, Williams said the topic is a community issue, not just one for the state.

Those with resources “have to reach out and assist those individuals to help provide affordable housing, affordable jobs,” he said.

Collins-Lewis said creating jobs is the way to combat poverty.

Marcelle said education is the key to breaking the poverty cycle.

She said the district’s biggest needs are improved education and reduced crime.

Williams said identifying impediments to economic growth is the district’s top need.

Collins-Lewis listed reducing crime as the district’s top priority.

Marcelle said economic growth depends on finding ways to lure businesses to urban areas.

Williams said the key is to aid small firms, especially those owned by women and minorities.

“And we need to make sure we provide them adequate resources to grow whereby they can bring on additional employees and grow their company,” he said.

Marcelle said one way to ease state budget problems would be to review tax breaks enjoyed by large companies.

Williams said avoiding the use of onetime funding for recurring state needs would ease state financial problems.

DONNA COLLINS-LEWIS

Democrat, Baton Rouge.

54, housing director.

EDUCATION: High school.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Metro Council District 6, 2008-present.

C. DENISE MARCELLE

Democrat, Baton Rouge.

50, legal assistant.

EDUCATION: B.A., Southern University.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Metro Council District 7, 2008-present.

ALFRED WILLIAMS

Democrat, Baton Rouge.

60, lawyer.

EDUCATION: B.A., Southern University; law degree, Southern University Law Center.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, 2003-05; assistant chief administrative officer for Mayor Kip Holden, 2005-2007.

WHERE TO VOTE

Ward/Precinct and location

East Baton Rouge Parish

1-2 Melrose Upper Elementary

1-7 Dufrocq Elementary

1-14 Belfair Elementary

1-26 Prescott Middle

1-27 Dalton Elementary

1-28 Winbourne Elementary

1-29 Istrouma High

1-30 Melrose Lower Elementary

1-32 Martin Luther King Community Center

1-33 Lobdell Avenue Fire Station

1-36 Melrose Upper Elementary

1-37 Bernard Terrace Elementary

1-40 Catholic High

1-50 Howell Park Elementary

1-54 Villa Del Rey Elementary

1-57 Our Lady of Mercy - ECC

1-61 Mohican Special Education Center

1-62 Choctaw Maintenance Center

1-63 Melrose Lower Elementary

1-64 Westdale Middle

1-104 Independence Recreation Center