‘LaPolitics:’ Baton Rouge-area BESE seat opens up

    BESE board member Kathy Edmonston, R-Gonzales, announced this week she will not be seeking re-election to her Sixth District seat this fall, deciding to focus on her work as the Ascension Parish School System’s parent facilitator. In that role, Edmonston serves as an advocate for students, working with both schools and families to ensure that pupils receive the proper accommodations.

    “It has been an honor to serve the constituents of district six on BESE,” Edmonston told LaPolitics. “I will continue to support families whose children struggle in school. In 2015, I ran to be a voice for our children, their teachers and their parents. I pledge to continue to be that voice.”  

    First elected four years ago, she finished first in the primary with 47% before defeating fellow GOP candidate Jason Engen in a runoff. She succeeded former BESE Chairman Chas Roemer, who was term-limited. Edmonston’s election was notable because she was the only BESE candidate backed by the teachers’ unions to prevail at the ballot box in 2015.

    On the board, Edmonston was a critic of Common Core and pushed for the panel to vote on a long-term contract for Superintendent John White, arguing that the use of a month-to-month deal was impractical. She also pushed for administrative changes at the Louisiana School for the Deaf and other specialty institutions.

    The Sixth District covers parts of East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes. The election coincides with the regularly scheduled gubernatorial, statewide and legislative races this fall.

    Lawmakers Racing to Finish

    With the end of the regular session approaching, politicos have been holding their breath, waiting for the big men with the big gavels to tell members that it is time to start working on weekends. It’s something most lawmakers have come to expect, knowing legislation needs to get moved before adjournment.

    According to Senate President Pro-Tem Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, the upper chamber was off today but will be returning to the Capitol on Memorial Day for work. While Long acknowledged that while both he and Senate President John Alario feel like they are in “good shape,” they want to move bills from the House. “We want to give every bill and every representative a fair hearing,” Long said.

    Long also added that the Senate will be working through next weekend, the Legislature’s last before sine die on June 6. “For this point in the session, it’s pretty typical,” he said.

    According to House Clerk Butch Speer’s office, the lower chamber is scheduled to work through Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next week as well.

    They said it: “I’m so happy to be here. And I’m so happy to have appointed all of you to the committee.”—Senate President John Alario, addressing the Judiciary B committee before testifying, in The Advocate. 

    Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.   

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