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Turbulent Caddo, quiet Bossier elections loom

Like man-eating lions and tigers, politicians recently in or being ousted from current offices litter the Caddo Parish qualification lists. Meanwhile, peace and quiet reign for the most part in the Bossier Parish qualifications for elected office, with state Rep. Henry Burns’ ambitions largely disrupting that calm.

Consuming humans doesn’t come naturally to wild cats, but once they find themselves in that situation they often acquire a taste for us. Thus is the same with many politicians and their desire for the bright lights and adulation they receive by winning elections and wielding power; once they experience it, they find it hard to give up. A few such beasts will roam Caddo during the election season.

It may not be coincidental that former Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover will vie to get his old House of Representatives seat back just days after his successor to that Democrat state Rep. Patrick Williams abruptly announced he was deferring on reelection.  Democrat Glover held on to about $10,000 in campaign funds after his term ended in late 2014 but also made plans to have a fundraiser this summer. Williams performed well short of expectations in his attempt to succeed Glover last year, in part dogged by ethics questions over spending related to his service in the House and his campaign. It may be that Williams understood that Glover would present a formidable challenge, and decided with his new degree his energies might be better spent elsewhere.

But Glover’s not the only one seeking to stay or resume life in elected office. Like Glover, Democrat State Rep. Roy Burrell, facing term limitation for the second time (Glover in the Legislature and as mayor; Burrell previously as a Shreveport city councilor), opted to go for another office, taking on Democrat Jerald Bowman for Caddo Parish Commission District 5. Bowman succeeded his mother the late Joyce Bowman, who built an impressive following so this could evolve into an interesting and intense contest.

Victim of the housecleaning of the Caddo Parish School Board by voters disgruntled with shaky finances and poor school performance, Democrat Charlotte Crawley returns to action to face off against Republican incumbent Matthew Linn. While the Commission itself has made a number of questionable financial decisions, Linn usually has been more sensible and restrained than his colleagues’ penchant for profligate taxing and spending, so there may be a certain glass house quality to Crawley’s challenge.

Burns attempt to move to the state Senate after Robert Adley’s term limitation out drew two opponents. The Republican faces a GOP challenger, lawyer Ryan Gatti, who contested the 8th House District a couple of cycles ago but lost badly. While Gatti insists he would prove a “strong conservative voice” in the Legislature, eyebrows have been raised by the large financial support Gatti has given to the bid of law school classmate and gubernatorial candidate Democrat John Bel Edwards for that office, one of the most liberal members of the House. Should Gatti finish ahead of the Democrat in the field, businessman Todd Hollenshead, likely leading to a runoff, this contest could become unpredictable.

Trying to replace Burns is his current legislative assistant Dodie Horton, playing on that association by proclaiming she is “job ready.” That might not be the wisest strategy in an environment, which also will hurt Burns, that perceives this year’s Legislature as having raised taxes too freely while perhaps solving nothing as rumblings continue that next year’s budget still will be out of whack. Southwest Caddo and north Desoto Parish voters showed themselves amenable to this kind of appeal in selecting now term-limited state Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington to succeed Ron Bean, so voters from north Bossier Parish and those of surrounding parishes may respond in kind. She is opposed by Mike McHalffey, who currently serves on the state’s Racing Commission.

Otherwise, things turned out mostly quiet in Bossier Parish with most police jurors unchallenged but with the Clerk of Court’s office open. Besides the typically once-in-a-lifetime shot for district attorney in Caddo triggered by the untimely death of Charles Scott, the action has coalesced in Parish Commission contests; besides the challenges to Linn and Bowman, five others face challengers with three open seats. Besides Linn and Bowman, Republican John Escude’ faces the most serious threats, from fellow GOP members former sheriff’s deputy Mike Middleton and Lea Desmarteau, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Citizen unrest over Commission profligacy may have pushed Mike Thibodeaux, who already had an announced challenger/now Commissioner-elect Republican John Atkins that promised he would accept no salary or other benefits, out of defending his seat. This general attitude could end up positioning more rookies than returning veterans to grace the Commission come next year.

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