Edmond Jordan and Vereta Lee came out on top in an election Saturday to fill the north Baton Rouge-Port Allen state representative seat left open by the recent death of Ronnie Edwards from pancreatic cancer.
The two will face off in a runoff election for the seat on May 14. Whoever wins will enter the Legislature past the midpoint of its current regular session. Another special session is expected to be called at the conclusion to deal with raising revenue or more budget cuts to close a $750 million budget shortfall.
Meanwhile, constituents in the area are calling on their next state representative to take action and provide solutions to their lack of access to health care, since in recent years they’ve lost both the state-run Earl K. Long Hospital and the Baton Rouge General Mid-City emergency room.
The sprawling district stretches through north Baton Rouge and crosses the Mississippi River to include Port Allen and Brusly.
The open seat drew five candidates, including Jordan, a Port Allen-based attorney, and Lee, a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. The other candidates were Edwards’ former East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council legislative aide Tyra Banks Sterling, attorney Victor Woods, and Abounding Love Ministries pastor the Rev. Albert White.
All the candidates are Democrats.
Jordan was the lead voter getter on Saturday, winning 31 percent of the 3,484 ballots cast, while Lee took 24 percent.
Jordan had made the runoff in the election against Edwards in November. Jordan said during his previous campaign that he is a school choice advocate. He serves as vice president of South Louisiana Charter Foundation Inc., a nonprofit board that has contracted with for-profit Charter Schools USA to run three schools in the Baton Rouge area.
Jordan has said that one way he envisions fixing the budget is through tax reform, like a plan that failed in the special session to eliminate a federal income tax deduction for individual filers. That measure alone would raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the state, but an attempt in this year’s special session was watered down to only affect corporations.
Lee is in her 10th year on the School Board. She also works as a student support services supervisor for the Baker school system and previously worked as a teacher in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Lee said her priorities are protecting funding for education and supporting expansion of Medicaid, the federal insurance program for the poor. Gov. John Bel Edwards has moved forward on expanding Medicaid later this year.