Cedric Floyd.jpg

Cedric Floyd

Two-thirds of the nine seats on the Jefferson Parish School Board may have been settled Nov. 6, but it's the three remaining races — one, in particular — that may set the tone for how the governing board of the state's largest school district operates for the next four years.

In District 2, incumbent Ricky Johnson, a Democrat, is taking on Eddie Boudreaux, a Republican, in Saturday's runoff. In District 3, Tiffany Kuhn, who was appointed to the board when Ray St. Pierre died in 2017, has the endorsements of both the teachers union and a leading business group, frequent antagonists in past board elections.

The most hotly contested race, and the one that has drawn the most scrutiny from outsiders, is in District 5, where longtime School Board member Cedric Floyd is facing teacher Simeon Dickerson, a 38-year old political newcomer.

Floyd hasn't faced such a stiff challenge since 1998, when he lost the seat after two terms. He won it again in 2010, earning 63 percent of the vote, and in 2014, he dispatched two challengers without having to go to a runoff. 

This year, the race for the seat has been intense. Dickerson has powerful political backers, including Parish Councilman Mark Spears, who has advised him on his campaign. Floyd once challenged Spears for his Parish Council seat and lost.

The race has gotten nasty in its latter stages. Floyd has accused Dickerson of having been arrested on auto theft and battery counts and also of lying about his status as a teacher.

Dickerson disputed both claims, saying that the District Attorney's Office dropped the charges against him once prosecutors realized he was not the man that had been arrested and falsely gave Dickerson's name, and by presenting a letter showing that he is employed as a science teacher at Robert Moton Charter School.

He also filed a lawsuit asking a judge to prohibit Floyd and his allies from making the claims. A judge issued a temporary restraining order pending a hearing scheduled for Tuesday. 

Dickerson, however, has lagged behind in filing campaign finance reports. He said Friday that he had gotten behind because he still works full time and that he hoped to be caught up by election day.

Floyd has the endorsement of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers, while Dickerson has the backing of the Jefferson Chamber Political Action Committee.

Floyd's fate, more than that of any other board member, will likely affect the dynamics of the board moving forward.

Floyd has won plaudits for helping to get some schools in his district, like Bunche Elementary, reopened and for aggressively pushing for the parish's teachers to get a raise. But he also was the main factor behind the dismissal of Isaac Joseph, the system's first black appointed superintendent.

His actions, however, frequently have been overshadowed by his outbursts during meetings, his confrontational style and at times over-the-top rhetoric.

In the other two races, the incumbents, Kuhn and Johnson, appear likely to keep their seats. Kuhn's opponent, retired coach Mark Terrebonne, has been hampered from campaigning by recent surgery. Boudreaux, the District 2 challenger, is running as a Republican in a heavily Democratic district.

In all three races, the key will be which candidates can motivate their voters to go to the polls for an election without a major national or statewide race on the ballot, said Kesler Camese-Jones, of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers. 

"I think it's a matter of them turning out their base," she said. "I think most voters have made their decisions."

Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.