Both candidates running to capture the Senate District 17 seat previously held by term-limited Rob Marionneaux, D-Grosse Tete, say the state could be doing more to help businesses flourish.

Rick Ward, 29, said he would like to see legislators get more creative in offering incentives to businesses looking to set up in Louisiana.

“We need to do more to make Louisiana a more business-friendly state,” he said. “I’m open to looking at anything that will attract more companies here.”

His opponent, Larry Thomas, said the state should repeal a self-employment tax that he said hits small businesses too hard.

“Small-business owners are paying almost double what their employees pay in state income tax, just for giving people some place to work,” he said.

Both candidates said they are opposed to any tax hikes.

Thomas, 58, said two ways to balance the state budget would be “slimming down” the number of highly paid employees working in the Governor’s Office and limiting funding given to non-governmental organizations.

“I don’t think we should be giving NGOs money out of the state budget until the budget is balanced and we could save more money by cutting duplication of administration jobs.”

Meanwhile, Ward said, cutting wasteful spending is the best path toward getting the state’s finances on track, but he wants to avoid making any promises until he’s had a chance to go over the state’s budget.

“I think we need to look at what our least-vital services are and then cut out what can be eliminated,” Ward said.

Education and job growth go hand-in-hand, Thomas said in addressing the issue of how to confront poverty in Louisiana.

Thomas said the state’s film industry, in particular, has benefited from tax credits, but the state hasn’t gone far enough in offering tax credits for training residents to work in that industry.

“North Carolina has put a ton of money into training people to work in the film industry,” Thomas said. “Those people come work in our state and then they take their money and go home.”

Ward said a renewed focus on providing quality education to Louisiana residents is essential and the right thing to do to better the state.

The state, Ward said, cannot continue to devalue education and fall a greater distance behind other states.

A better-educated population would have a multiplying effect as more opportunities are created, which in turn, would reduce Louisiana’s poverty rate, he said.

Both candidates also recently weighed in on the outlook for Senate District 17, saying its greatest deficiency is in the field of education.

Several of District 17’s school systems are failing and even more are struggling, Ward said.

Providing each child in the district with a quality education is one of his top priorities, Ward said.

“It’s hard to understand why education is always the first to be cut,” Ward said.

“I know certain things can’t be cut, but we can’t continue to just cut education just because,” he said.

Thomas said the district needs an influx of resources put into trade schools and the technical college system.

Bringing back industrial arts programs in public schools and teaching students visualization skills would be additional means of giving the people of District 17 a boost, he said.

“Small businesses are looking for a skilled workforce,” Thomas said.

“If people aren’t being trained, how can they work?”


Democrat, Clinton.

58, retired businessman.

EDUCATION: Machinist degree, Wilkerson County Technical College.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Legislative assistant.


Democrat, Maringouin.

29, lawyer.

EDUCATION: B.A., LSU; J.D., Southern University.



Ward/Precinct and location

Assumption Parish

2-3 Labadieville Middle

2-4 Labadieville Library Branch

3-1 Labadieville Library Branch

3-2 Bayou L’Ourse Volunteer Fire Dept.

5-3 Napoleonville Volunteer Fire Dept.

5-4 Napoleonville Middle

7-2 Charles Landry Grocery Store

7-3 Assumption Parish Library, Pierre Part

8-1 Assumption Parish Library, Pierre Part

8-1A Assumption Parish Library, Pierre Part

8-2 Pierre Part Middle

9-1 Pierre Part Middle

9-1A Pierre Part Middle

East Baton Rouge Parish

2-7 Gas Utility District 1

2-21 Zachary Police, Court Building

2-26 Grace Baptist Church

2-29 Northwestern Middle

2-32 Northwestern Middle

East Feliciana Parish

All precincts

Iberville Parish

2 White Castle Community Center

3 White Castle Community Center

4 White Castle Fire Station No. 3

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5 Bayou Pigeon Library

6 Bayou Goula Volunteer Fire Dept.

6A White Castle Fire Station No. 3

13A E.J. Gay School

14 Plaquemine Junior High Concession Stand

14B Plaquemine Junior High Concession Stand

15 American Legion Post No. 167

15A Crescent School

15B Library Building

16 Iberville Middle

17 Library Building

17A Library Building

18 Knights of Columbus

19 Iberville Council on Aging

19A Parish Vocational-Technical School

20 Gascon Wintz Building

21 Fire Station

22 Plaquemine Lions Club

23 Parish Vocational-Technical School

24 Crescent School

25 Bayou Sorrel Library

25A Bayou Sorrel Library

25B Bayou Sorrel Library

26 Crescent School

26A Crescent School

27 Bayou Blue Volunteer Fire Dept.

28 Rosedale Town Hall

29 Grosse Tete Town Hall

30 Rosedale Town Hall

31 Council on Aging

32 Iberville Parish Library

Pointe Coupee Parish

All precincts

St. Helena Parish

1-1 North Helena Fire Station

1-2 North Helena Fire Station

2-1 South Second Ward Helena Fire Station

2-2 Courthouse Square, Drivers License Building

3-1 District 4 Fire Station

3-2 Highway 16 Voting Booth

3-3 District 4 Fire Station

5-2 Hillsdale Fire Station

6-1 Highway 441 Voting Booth

6-2 Old Woodland School site

St. Martin Parish

1-2 Parish Government Building

1-5 New Fire Station

West Baton Rouge Parish

3 Brusly Elementary

4 Brusly Elementary

5 Brusly Elementary

9 American Legion Hall

16 Lobdell Fire Station

17 West Baton Rouge Parish Building

18 Port Allen High

19 Chamberlin School

20 Rosehill Fire Station

21 Erwinville Community Center/Shelder

22 Erwinville Community Center/Shelder

West Feliciana Parish

2-2 Star Hill Fire Station

7-2A West Feliciana Community Center

7-2B West Feliciana Community Center