With the disqualification of former legislator and convicted felon Derrick Shepherd, Saturday’s race for the District 87 seat in the state House of Representatives is down to two candidates: incumbent Ebony Woodruff and challenger Rodney Lyons Sr.
Both are Democrats.
Despite court rulings against him, Shepherd has asked a Baton Rouge judge to prevent the Secretary of State’s Office from refusing to count ballots cast for him. His name is on the ballots that have been printed, but at this point the state will post instructions at polling places telling voters that votes for his candidacy will not be counted.
Woodruff won the West Bank seat without opposition in 2013 after Shepherd’s successor, Girod Jackson, resigned after being charged with fraud and failure to pay taxes.
Woodruff did not return calls recently to the number she listed when she qualified to run or to the number for her legislative office, which is in Terrytown, outside of the Harvey-based district.
Her opponent, Lyons, said he is better connected to the residents of the district and will “restore not just confidence but representation, accountability and accessibility.”
Woodruff “has not been accessible to the constituents of the district,” he said. “She hasn’t reached out and been accountable to them.”
Lyons, 52, is a retired supervisor with the Jefferson Parish Streets Department and a former high school and youth league basketball coach. He also is a past president of the Woodmere Civic Association, representing the subdivision often called the largest in the state.
“I have the pulse of the community at my fingertips and have the ability to relate to the community on a fundamental basis, and that’s what we need at this time,” he said.
Lyons said constituents need their elected officials to work on bringing economic opportunity to the community, developing job training initiatives and supporting law enforcement agencies’ efforts to help keep residents safe.
Although he has not held elected office, he said, he’s a “quick study.”
“I’m a good team builder and a great communicator, and that’s a large part of how I’ll be successful,” he said. “My candidacy is not just about being a legislator in Baton Rouge; it’s representing the people.”
Woodruff, 35, is a former assistant Jefferson Parish attorney.
She has an undergraduate degree in business administration from LSU and a law degree from Southern University. She graduated from John Ehret High School in Marrero.
Woodruff won the endorsement of the Alliance for Good Government.
She told that group she was proud that in her first two years in office she helped get money for the Brown Avenue Canal project — after 16 years — put into the state’s prized Priority 5 capital outlay budget to the tune of $3.7 million.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.