Elected four years ago to represent District 63 in the Louisiana House of Representatives, Barbara West Carpenter is facing a challenge from the man she replaced, Dalton Honoré Sr.

Both candidates have spent decades in public and community service.

“I know my district. My people know me and I know them,” said Carpenter, a 74-year-old dean of international education and university outreach at Southern University.

Honoré, a 76-year-old retired investigator with the Parish Attorney’s Office, said, “People know me. People respect me and they will return me to the Legislature on Oct. 12.”

Early voting starts Saturday and continues through Oct. 5, except for Sept. 29.

District 16 has 27,659 registered voters. It’s center is Baker, but also takes in part of Baton Rouge and Zachary. It’s bounded on the south by the U.S. 190 bridge and the north by Church Street in Zachary.

Carpenter and Honoré are African-American Democrats in a majority black and Democratic district. In 2016, District 63 voted 78% for Clinton versus 20% for Trump.

Carpenter has spent her career in education. She grew up in a family of educators. Her father was the principal of Scotlandville High School and her mother was assistant principal at Baker Middle School, where Carpenter later taught.

In addition to her decades in education, Carpenter served for 27 years on the board of the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, including six terms as its chairman.

Honoré attended Scotlandville High, but dropped out to join the U.S. Air Force, where he earned his GED. He later returned to attend Southern University.

The first black deputy hired by the parish Sheriff's Office, he worked night shifts while at Southern. After 12 years with the Sheriff’s Office, where he rose to the rank of captain, Honoré went into the grocery store business for a time before joining the Parish Attorney’s Office.

He ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in 2007, and in 2010 won a special election for the District 63 seat left vacant by the death of then Rep. Avon Honey. It was a five-person race. He ended up soundly defeating former Metro Councilman Ulysses “Bones” Addison Jr. in a runoff.

In 2015, Carpenter won the seat in similar fashion, getting into a runoff from a five-person field, and later defeating Addison as well.

Carpenter said she’s proud at how quickly she’s learned the ropes at the Legislature and plans to advance even further in a second term.

She highlighted her ability to pass legislation to require sexual harassment training and surveys in the workplace and to make sure defendants in criminal cases who plead guilty are fully informed of the consequences of doing so.

Carpenter said she’s especially proud of her work with other north Baton Rouge lawmakers to prevent the Baton Rouge Zoo from relocating from Baker to south Baton Rouge.

“It was like David versus Goliath,” she said.

Honoré said in 2015 that he was open to the moving the Zoo, but only if it moved to the central part of the parish. He explained that he meant in the vicinity of Cortana Mall. He also said he always thought it would be better to try to improve the Zoo where it is now by upgrading the roadway between Interstate 110 and the Zoo, something that is part of the current improvement plans for the attraction.

As a legislator, Honoré became known for his successful promotion of legislation to enable distribution of medical marijuana in Louisiana, and an unsuccessful push to legalize recreational marijuana, though he’s quick to say he’s never smoked pot in this life.

Honoré also said he’s not overly partisan and doesn't want to see politics in Baton Rouge become like they are in polarized Washington, D.C.

“I’m a Democrat, but I’ve worked with all parties involved,” Honoré said.

Honoré gave up his District 63 seat in 2015 to try for the open Senate District 15 race. He ended up losing in a three-way contest, garnering 33% of the vote. Regina Barrow won outright, avoiding a runoff.

Honoré said he soon let it be known that he planned to try to get his old job back in 2019.

“I really enjoyed it. The camaraderie with the people,” Honoré said. “It’s a thinking man’s game to outthink people to get them on my side. So it was a challenging adventure.”

According to the latest available campaign finance reports, Carpenter had raised about $25,000 and had $20,000 on hand still to spend. Honoré has reported raising little new money, but still had $20,000 left over from previous campaigns; he had $11,000 still on hand.

Honoré said he’s not lodging any attacks on Carpenter. But she's critical of his voting record as a legislator, saying "he voted a lot with Bobby Jindal."

Carpenter is running for reelection despite a challenging year that saw the death of her husband, Dana Carpenter, a longtime professor and administrator at Southern who spent three terms on the Baker City School Board.


AGE: 74

PARTY: Democrat

OCCUPATION: Dean of international affairs and university outreach at Southern University.

EDUCATION: Bachelors in vocational education and secondary science, masters in secondary education at Southern University; Ph.D. in adult and occupational education from Kansas State University.

EXPERIENCE: Served 27 years on the board of the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, including six terms as its chairman.


AGE: 76

PARTY: Democrat

OCCUPATION: Retired investigator with the Parish Attorney’s Office.

EDUCATION: Southern University, Bachelor of Science and some graduate work at LSU and Southern.

EXPERIENCE: State representative for District 63; sheriff’s deputy.

Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.