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Most Bossier, Caddo election action in northern parts

With one exceptional matchup, residents in southern Caddo Parish and their counterparts in Bossier mostly can snooze through fall state and local elections, as the real action seems to be in points north in both parishes.

That exception concerns the Senate District 38 contest between incumbent state Sen. Sherri Smith Cheek and Mansfield Alderman Troy Terrell. This is not a contest Cheek should take lightly, as four years ago in a differently-drawn district she eked out a narrow win over a relatively under-financed and then-relatively unknown today’s House District 5 state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, and Terrell appears to be a better-quality candidate now than Seabaugh was then, who this time drew a challenger in the form of former appointed Shreveport City Council member Cynthia Norton Robertson, now calling herself a Republican.

Through his pastoral duties, being a minister, Terrell has engaged in impressive community service both in the area and the state.
Theoretically, this could turn into extensive fundraising potential and a ready-made network of volunteers. Even as both are Republicans, he also has sought contrast his issue preferences with Cheek’s who has voted inconsistently conservatively over the years.

However, Cheek in the past as shown herself to be a formidable fundraiser from special interests and demographics favor her even more than before in this election. While the balance of Caddo and DeSoto Parish residents remains about the same with Caddo comprising a shade over three-quarters of registered voters, and even though the number of Republicans stayed about the same since 2007 but there are around 2,000 fewer Democrats, of those Democrats there are about 2,000 more blacks. Only these numbers give Cheek a chance to keep her seat, and she also must contend with the wild-card aspects of having a minor Democrat in the contest as well.

Heading north, adding to the return of the living dead quality of previous officeholders challenging existing occupants, in House District 2 Roy Burrell faced a somewhat similar challenge from former Caddo Parish School Board member Raymond Hicks, who subsequently served as president of Grambling State University. But Burrell caught a break when Hicks ran afoul of residency requirements and was removed from the ballot; his entry likely was connected to attempted vengeance by Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, who no doubt remains irked that Burrell unsuccessfully challenged him for his reelection last year.

Things heat up even more when crossing the river, due east. In the open seat House District 8, retired firefighter and businessman Duke Lowrie squares off with trial lawyer and former U.S. House candidate Jeff Thompson. While both Republicans, they appear to have adopted different campaign strategies. Lowrie and his campaign confidants for months have engaged in an extensive walking strategy in the district, while Thompson’s has been more media-intensive, heavy on gaining special interests’ endorsements, and with surrogates presenting the appearance that Thompson has been visiting residences. As at this level of contest personal visitation is the most effective means of campaigning, it remains to be seen whether Thompson’s tactic of simulating the frequency of his turning up on people’s doorsteps than actually happens combined with media and endorsement emphasis will substitute successfully.

But the most action is churning in the rural, mostly northern, districts of the Bossier Parish Police Jury. The Caddo Parish Commission showed a similar pattern of most of the urban seats unopposed, but the opposed spots mainly were reruns some the kind or involved seats recently open between elections. In Bossier, a couple of prior candidates but mostly newcomers have declared open season on four incumbents, a couple of them long-standing, in the northern part of the parish.

Some factors specific to a contest are involved, such as District 5’s Barry Butler being perhaps a little too outspoken about questioning some spending going on by his colleagues, but, more generally, a combination of tiring of entrenched incumbents and zoning and utilities issues see to lay behind the uprising. Essentially, especially among some rural residents, feelings have emerged that the Jury has been too quick to pursue zoning and utilities makeovers and a fresh set of jurors may be better reflect constituents’ feelings about these things.

And while Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator looks ready to roll over minor opposition to get yet another term, the retirement Bossier Sheriff Larry Deen has opened up a contest that looks to be the hottest of all area local races. Backed by the same people who supported Deen, former department deputy Julian Whittington appears to have the upper hand with lots of money and established Bossier elites on which to draw support, but the dissatisfaction that steadily  increased with Deen over the course of his last term, if somehow his opponents veteran law officer Mike McConnell and department retiree John Matlock can sufficiently link Whittington to Deen, what has been an intense behind-the-scenes struggle could break out into the public to Whittington’s disadvantage.

Finally, the surprise of the fall is former state attorney general candidate Royal Alexander unexpectedly taking on long-term incumbent Caddo Parish Assessor Charles Hennington, to match the spirited contest in Bossier between incumbent Bobby Edmiston and challenger Ryal Siem. Both are insurgent vs. courthouse crowd matchups, with Alexander in recent months having become a leading critic questioning tax levels and property valuations.

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