The three candidates vying for the newly created House 95 legislative seat agree that the best way to balance the state budget is by cutting government spending and not through tax increases.

“There’s a lot of assistants to assistants in state government,” said Lonnie Watts, 50. “I think we should cut some unnecessary services.”

“We have got to cut some fat,” said Sherman Mack, an Albany lawyer. “I do think there are some things we can do.”

The third candidate in the race, Matthew Mitchell, also agreed that cuts need to be made, specifically to welfare programs, he said in an email.

Mitchell advocates implementing a time limit on welfare so that state money would not be abused.

“Instead of trying to help them get on their feet, it’s turned into a way of life,” Mack said of welfare.

All three indicated that jobs were a central issue.

Mack cited a lack of skilled tradespeople as a reason that some jobs were leaving the state of Louisiana.

To correct the problem, Mack said, the state needs to focus on increasing the levels of vocational and technical education.

“You have kids in high school who can’t go to college, or they don’t want to,” he said. “They feel like they can’t do anything.”

Education is not just academics; it is also life and technical skills, he said.

“If you can teach a person a basic skill in high school, they will feel that they can get out and accomplish something,” he said.

Mack said those skills were central to encouraging development of Louisiana’s high-profile industry.

“I believe the petrochemical industry is the heart of the economy in Louisiana,” Mack said. “We are going to lose a lot more jobs if we can’t promote and put out more skilled labor in south Louisiana.”

Watts also said education must be a priority.

“People have got to be educated and they have to want to get a job,” he said. “They have to want to help themselves.”

Both Mack and Watts also cited the need for infrastructure improvements to help Livingston Parish — where District 95 is located — deal with rapid growth.

“Seven of 10 people leave this parish to go to work,” Watts said. “We need a bridge in the northern part of the parish and even one in the south.

“This is essential to the working people of Livingston Parish,” he said.

For Mack, of Albany, infrastructure improvements on the parish’s east side would be necessary to facilitate growth on that side as well.

“Things are going to change, if we can do some things infrastructurewise, we can lessen that load,” he said.

SHERMAN Q. MACK

Republican, Albany.

39, lawyer.

EDUCATION: B.A., Southeastern Louisiana University; J.D.. Southern University.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.

MATTHEW WADE MITCHELL

No party, Holden.

21, stock clerk.

EDUCATION: Southeastern Louisiana University.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.

LONNIE WATTS

Democrat, Walker.

50, technician.

EDUCATION: Walker High School.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.

WHERE TO VOTE

Ward/Precinct and location

Livingston Parish

5 Levi Milton Elementary

5A N. Corbin Elementary

5B Levi Milton Elementary

5C Levi Milton Elementary

6 N. Corbin Elementary

6A N. Livingston Voting Precinct

6B N. Livingston Voting Precinct

7 South Walker Elementary

7B South Walker Elementary

7C South Walker Elementary

8A Doyle Elementary

8B Doyle Elementary

9 Fire District No. 11 Station

10 Holden High

11 Albany Elementary

11A Albany Elementary

12 Albany Elementary

13B Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau

20 Frost Elementary

23A Seventh Ward Elementary

23B Seventh Ward Elementary

29 Livingston Town Hall

30 Albany Maintenance Building

36A Westside Junior High