Voters in the predominantly Republican southeast Baton Rouge are being asked Saturday to select a new state representative among four candidates.
The polls open at 7 a.m. for the Saturday election and close at 8 p.m. for 29 precincts along Bayou Manchac from the Amite River to Gardere.
Four candidates are vying to replace Republican state Rep. Hunter Greene. Greene resigned after being elected to a seat on the Family Court for East Baton Rouge Parish.
Voters in Iberia, Vermilion, Rapides and Bossier parishes also are voting on state representatives Saturday. The village of Turkey Creek in Evangeline Parish is choosing a new mayor.
“Turnout during early voting was very light across the state for these special elections,” Secretary of State Tom Schedler said Friday. “My hope is that voters will consider the importance of filling these legislative vacancies before the session begins this spring and cast their ballot on Saturday.”
Unless one of the candidates gets at least 50 percent of the vote plus one, then the top two vote-getters meet in a March 28 runoff election. The idea is to seat a new state representative for House District 66 before the Louisiana Legislature convenes on April 13.
Judging from those who voted early in House District 66, which traditionally has higher-than-usual turnouts, Schedler predicts about 10 percent of the 30,758 eligible voters will cast ballots.
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. Eighty percent of the district is white and nearly half are registered Republicans — among the highest percentages in the state.
Three Republicans, all white males, and one white woman, Susan E. Nelson, who is running without party affiliation, are on the ballot.
Nelson has had to stand in the back at a couple forums hosted by Republican clubs because their rules forbid allowing anyone not with the GOP to speak at their events.
But the forums have been lively as the three GOP candidates — Buddy Amoroso, a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council; Rick Bond, who is making his first bid for public office; and Darrell Ourso, who served on the Metro Council from 1999 to 2008 — find their differences among the nuances.
All three Republicans -— Nelson, too, for that matter — oppose tax increases.
Amoroso, a founder of the anti-tax advocacy group Tax Busters, took criticism from Bond and Ourso for refusing to consider tax increases. “You have to go in there with a clear philosophy,” Amoroso said.
Bond countered that legislators facing a $1.6 billion budget deficit right off the bat need the courage to be flexible and practical. No options should be taken off the table. “We shouldn’t take the absolutes. That just boxes us in,” Bond said.
Ourso agreed, saying he would refuse to cut LSU as deeply as has been discussed, if raising taxes were necessary to keep LSU losing even more of its state aid.
Nelson said after a Capital City Republican Women’s forum that she would back an immediate moratorium on all tax credits, which Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration would consider a tax increase.
Voters in Iberia and Vermilion parishes are choosing between two Republicans, John Bering, a U.S. Army veteran who works as a helicopter pilot over the Gulf of Mexico, and Blake Miguez, president and CEO of SeaTran Marine.
The pair are running to replace state Rep. Simone Champagne, a Republican formerly of Jeanerette, who resigned in December to become Youngsville’s new chief administrative officer.
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