Metro Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg was elected Saturday as representative for District 70 in the Louisiana House, defeating LSU political science professor Belinda Davis.
Complete but unofficial returns show Freiberg with 53 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Davis.
Freiberg, 70, a Republican, is a retired educator who previously served as president of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board and currently represents District 12 on the Metro Council. She described education as her "heartbeat" and said she ran so she can work on education policy on a broader scale.
"I am term-limited in the sense of my age and I have a limited amount of time to try and accomplish some goals, particularly with education," Freiberg said during the campaign.
District 70 extends from the edges of LSU’s campus through south Baton Rouge. Sixty-nine percent of its nearly 30,000 registered voters are white and 24% are black.
Both candidates identified education and infrastructure as top priorities.
Freiberg said she will advocate for affordable, universal early childhood education, so that when children enter kindergarten, they're ready to learn. She also said she will work to expand industry-based certification programs and college-credit programs in high schools.
"I have been in the business of education my entire life," Freiberg said, highlighting her role in modernizing Lee High School and leading the school board following the August 2016 floods.
Both candidates said they were in favor of a special legislative session to tackle the state's infrastructure woes.
A portion of District 70 extends into the boundaries for the new city of St. George. Voters in the southeastern corner of the parish voted to incorporate on Oct. 12, though its creation is facing legal challenges.
"They made that decision, and now we all have to do what we can to see if we can’t make this better for everyone," Freiberg said.
Democrats hoped for a potential pickup of this district. Among the 22 contested House seats on the Oct. 12 ballot currently held by Republicans, District 70 is where President Donald Trump under-performed the most relative to Mitt Romney four years earlier, according to an analysis by Mike Henderson, an assistant professor who directs the Public Policy Research Lab at the LSU School of Mass Communication.