Buddy Mincey (left) and Lori Callais (right)

Buddy Mincey (left) and Lori Callais (right)

The House District 71 seat will continue to be held by an official in the education business, but whether it’s longtime school board member Buddy Mincey or retired teacher Lori Callais is yet to be determined by Livingston Parish voters.

Callais and Mincey are on the ballot for the Nov. 16 runoff, both vying to replace term-limited J. Rodgers Pope, a former superintendent of the Livingston Parish school system who won the Senate District 13 race in the Oct. 12 election.

Both candidates tout their education bona fides going into a second round of voting.

Democrat Callais is a retired school teacher and grandmother whose focus centers on education in all of its aspects — school work, teacher pay, apprenticeship programs, college pathways and continued workforce education.

“We need to pay our teachers well because we’re losing them,” she said. “We need to also make sure we have programs so that our kids can leave school to work, so they have apprenticeship or dual enrollment programs that let them go to college. We need it all to be well-rounded, and to me, the base of our economy is our workforce.”

Drainage and flood control, along with protecting health care, were among other issues Callais identified as priorities.

She said she'll be a full-time legislator if elected, unlike her opponent in the race, who works in the petrochemical industry.

“We need to make sure people look at the candidates and see what they believe in and what they have to offer,” Callais said.

Mincey, who has served as the Livingston Parish School Board president for the last year and vice president for eight years prior in his now 13-year stint on the board, touts his budget focus and administrative side of education as an obvious pathway to legislative success.

“I have a record of working with legislators and our parish delegation to deal with our educational needs,” he said. “I’ve been actively working to improve our facilities, I’ve dealt with reforms, I know what our budgets are and how hard it is to give raises but how deserving our employees are.”

Mincey has served on the board’s budget and goals committee that manages the district’s more than $300 million budget. He pointed to successfully navigating through the 2016 flood and a 2011 round of state budget cuts as touchstones to his success in the role.

“We’ve had to do more with less, and I’ve been very engaged in that process,” Mincey said. “ I think one of the things we had to do is regain the public’s trust in state government, and you do that by good government and electing the right people, so I’m hopeful to be the person to bring that confidence back.”

Early voting for the Nov. 16 runoff began Saturday and will continue through this Saturday, Nov. 9. For more voting information, see sos.la.gov

Email Emma Kennedy at ekennedy@theadvocate.com.