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Blatant Democrat gerrymander dulls Caddo races

Because of a blatant partisan gerrymander, not much drama will come from Caddo Parish Commission elections this fall, with just a few internecine conflicts to stir up things.

Despite having a black/white population of about 49/45 percent as a result of the 2020 census, earlier this year the Commission reapportioned itself into seven strongly majority-black districts out of 12. In terms of registered voters (through August), no district’s majority race was less than 62 percent, District 10 being the lowest, which also underwent the most dramatic change from its previous incarnation where prior to February’s reapportionment its plurality was 49 percent white.

Commission Democrats managed this with an extreme power play. Disregarding its own rules that reapportionment should have occurred in 2022, they delayed the process until one commissioner, Republican Jim Taliaferro, resigned at the end of the year to take a seat on the Shreveport City Council and then appointed Democrat Ron Cothran to serve in the heavily-Republican district. That gave them seven sure votes by which to muscle through the current plan, disregarding an alternative that would have created six each black or white majority districts, leaving District 10 with a small white plurality.


BESE race outcomes expected to refresh reform

From the lineups of candidates for seats on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, its potential for policy change from its present course is incremental for the next four years after 2024.

Only District 3 Republican Sandy Holloway will return unopposed. Three other districts will send another Republican, while two will produce a Democrat. As a Republican seems likely to win the governorship and that officer appoints three members, that would indicate a Republican majority regardless of the outcome of the two races where major party candidates will clash.

Although in both cases, a Republican newcomer seems likely to win, with each having an existing connection to state government. Current District 4 Republican incumbent Michael Melerine will defer for a state House of Representative contest, but his wife Republican Stacey Melerine will run in his stead. They may become the new political power couple in north Louisiana, given that District 5 Republican Ashley Ellis also will retire, leaving her husband independent Friday Ellis as mayor of Monroe the only elected official in the household.


BC term limits still delayed, but likely coming

While the battle still rages over term limits hitting the ballot in Bossier City this fall, momentum appears headed in the direction that some form, if delayed and diluted, of these will come into being sooner rather than later.

Last month, the turmoil kicked off when a group of citizens had certified a petition, as authorized under the city charter, that invoked one of the two methods to amend the charter to include term limits. The petition process allows for the City Council to amend the charter directly through ordinance, using the exact language of the ballot propositions, within 30 days of receipt; if not done, then the Council is required to call an election within the next 90 days after with the exact proposition language put upon the ballot. The other process has the Council form a charter review commission whose members it and the mayor appoint, which then formulates amendments that the Council must put on the ballot.

Prior to the Aug. 8 deadline, at the last Council meeting prior to that Aug. 1 Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler tried to have the enabling ordinance introduced, but he missed the deadline which required unanimous Council approval for the addition. Instead, councilors Republicans David Montgomery, Jeff Free, and Vince Maggio, plus Democrat Bubba Williams and no party Jeff Darby, vetoed that – an atypical move, as the Council historically hardly ever has denied putting tardy submissions on the agenda.


LA lesser executive contests offer intrigue

Telegraphed for months in advance, qualifying for Louisiana executive office contests besides governor went largely to script and brought largely predictable clarity to races, if not intrigue.

Lieutenant governor looks like a walkover for Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, drawing token opposition with the exception of GOP former state Sen. Elbert Guillory. This isn’t Guillory’ first statewide rodeo but he doesn’t have a great history in drawing votes statewide and hasn’t reported any consequential raising or spending of campaign funds.

By contrast. in terms of unpredictability, perhaps the most interesting is Secretary of State, where incumbent Republican Kyle Ardoin chose not to run for reelection. GOP Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis is the biggest spender and has a base to work from, while Republican businessman Brandon Trosclair who previously made a legislative run has waged an insurgent campaign based on election integrity. GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder is trying to rival Francis in spending, hoping to appeal to state government insiders and crossover Democrats, having had a relationship with them since his speakership election that relied heavily on their support and typically acting sympathetically to their spending agenda unless really pressured by his caucus.


Bossier jurors' acts spur flood of challengers

A review of races this fall in Bossier Parish government shows an expected electoral quietude among executives, but perhaps having the chickens coming home to roost for many of the incumbents on the Police Jury.

Parishes have four elective executive offices up for grabs, but there will be next to no drama in Bossier for these. The incumbent assessor, clerk of court, and coroner drew no challengers, letting all three cruise to reelection. Republican Sheriff Julian Whittington did receive a challenge from political unknown Republican Chris Green, a former deputy who would seem to have little chance for the upset.

The Jury contests are another matter. In 2019, eight incumbents walked back into office, with District 2 Republican Glenn Benton being the only incumbent to receive a challenge. This time he avoided one, along with Democrat Jimmy Cochran (unchallenged in District 7 since 1999) and Republicans Doug Rimmer (unchallenged since 2011 in District 8) and Tom Salzer (never challenged since being the only one to qualify for a special election for District 11 in 2017) while the other eight incumbents all filed for reelection against opposition.