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Republican businessman Claston Bernard, center, speaks with supporters Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, during a rally in Donaldsonville for his congressional campaign. Bernard said many conservative African-American voters don't have a home in the Democratic Party.

Claston Bernard, the candidate endorsed by the Louisiana Republican Party, is continuing to make education the center of his campaign to replace Cedric Richmond in the congressional district that centers on New Orleans and the west bank of Jefferson Parish and extends to north Baton Rouge.

Bernard believes that improving the educational system is key to solving society’s woes.

As a conservative, he favors allowing companies to take dollar for dollar credits on their federal taxes by redirecting that money to early childhood education and after-school programs.

“Solid early childhood education programs reduce marital instability, increase long-term income capacity and reduces delinquency,” said Bernard, a 41-year-old resident of Gonzales. “Education is the best way out of poverty.”

Bernard said he would like to privatize the entire education system but said he realizes that for now public schools are needed.

Asked whether he would have voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump in January, Bernard wouldn’t say, adding that his focus was on current issues. “It was a waste of time,” he did say.

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Asked about the $1.9 trillion economic relief bill that Democrats are pushing through Congress, Bernard said it would cost the average taxpayer $5,700 but would deliver only $1,400 directly to most taxpayers. He said he would like each taxpayer to receive at least $2,000.

The bill also provides hundreds of billions of dollars of aid to cash-strapped local governments, to the effort to stamp out COVID-19 pandemic and to help businesses remain afloat.

Bernard said he didn’t know enough to say whether he favored the bill’s component that would extend federal unemployment benefits by $400 per week through September.

Bernard, who competed in two Olympics for Jamaica in the decathlon, believes his message is getting through to voters in a district drawn to elect a Black Democrat.

“I want to show Black Americans that they have a legitimate choice in having someone who will represent their conservative values,” he said.