Publisher: Your vote is your voice on Nov. 16

Rolfe McCollister Business Report

More than half of Louisiana’s registered voters did not cast a ballot in the primary. They left their future in the hands of others. A local state Senate race appeared to have a tie between second- and third-place—and on a recount, the second runoff spot was decided by just four votes. Every vote matters.

There are many important runoff elections and early voting is open now until Saturday, Nov. 9. Election day is Nov. 16. We have many important decisions to make, so speak up.

I have known, followed and previously endorsed a few of the candidates running. There is a field of good people offering to serve—but there are political and philosophical differences between the candidates regarding key issues, the role of government and direction Louisiana should go. In making endorsements, I use criteria such as their views, political philosophy, past record, character and platform. I also seriously consider their supporters, such as business organizations or unions, which may reflect their loyalties during crucial votes. The same goes for political party. While I have backed both Democrats and Republicans, parties often reflect loyalties to a philosophy about the role of government.

So, here are my endorsements:

Governor: Eddie Rispone

I don’t believe a fifth debate (that few would watch) would be much different than the fourth last week on LPB, which was mostly shouting and name-calling. Remember, this is the runoff and with early voting beginning Nov. 2 and a Nov. 16 election day, most folks have already selected their candidate or are leaning toward a particular choice.

The race is a classic liberal Democrat versus conservative Republican. You vote one way–for Gov. John Bel Edwards—if you think our state is flourishing and moving in right direction; the other way—for Eddie Rispone—if you believe we are losing jobs and residents, and not moving forward as a state, leaving you concerned about the next four years.

I believe we are going in the wrong direction and I don’t feel Edwards can fix it. His loyalty to teacher unions over children speaks volumes about his priorities and satisfaction with the status quo. This, despite him saying, “We can’t talk about jobs of the future and economy without talking about education. Education is the key.” And then he adds, “It’s the number one factor in making the decision that a CEO has as to whether they are going to invest in Louisiana.”

If so, why does he want to fight innovation and school choice, instead taking us back to the days of children trapped in failing schools run by the teacher unions for the benefit of its members? Will that impress a CEO?

Our neighbor, Texas, attracts 1,000 new residents a day and hundreds of thousands a year. We lose thousands every year due to a lack of quality jobs. That is not the right direction.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, Associated Builders and Contractors-Pelican Chapter, Louisiana Homebuilders Association, Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, Louisiana Chemical Association and Louisiana Association of Business and Industry—all job creators—are supporting Rispone.

Our U.S. senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, along with all of our Republican House members, including Ralph Abraham, are supporting Rispone.

Our secretary of state, state treasurer, secretary of agriculture and insurance commissioner support Rispone.

We all agree. The choice is clear: Eddie Rispone.

Secretary of State: Kyle Ardoin

Ardoin has the experience in this critical job that is becoming more complex and risky in the digital world in which we live. We should stay the course.

BESE- District 6: Ronnie Morris

Morris will be an advocate for all children. This LSU graduate, MBA and ExxonMobil engineer is a servant leader and will be an asset for BESE. He has been a volunteer in public schools for 15 years and is ready to serve and lead.

Senate District 16: Franklin Foil

Foil has served our community and nation for many years—12 in the Legislature and 28 as a JAG officer in the U.S. Navy and Reserve. He has served with honor and been a voice for those with special needs.

Foil is supported by former congressman Henson Moore, who was chairman of the flagship university’s Forever LSU campaign, and says Foil’s “commitment to LSU is strong and deep, and he is hardworking and effective.” He also has the endorsement of the current District 16 officeholder, term-limited state Sen. Dan Claitor. Last week, Rep. Steve Carter, who was Foil’s colleague in the House and former opponent in this race, told me Foil had his endorsement in the runoff. Business organizations such as NFIB, LABI and BRAC have all endorsed Foil. He will serve with dignity.

House of Representatives

The candidates in these races are passionate about serving. I commend anyone willing to step up and offer to be a public servant.

But I believe Louisiana is going to have limited revenue growth until we create more jobs and attract new businesses. That will require a conservative approach—which is the one, I believe, will get support in the new Legislature. I also believe we must continue to innovate in education, promote high standards and more competition through school choice if we want our children to be able to compete and for our state to provide a talented workforce for employers. Unions and teacher unions oppose that at the state and local levels—and I
oppose them.

We must also deal with our legal environment and bring parties to the table to institute tort reform.

Also, Louisiana’s revenue must increase to invest in education, higher education, infrastructure, public safety and helping those truly in need of health care. That will require a strong economy with more companies and more jobs—and taxpayers. And we must compete with Texas to get those companies and grow them.

Here are my choices for Louisiana’s future success:

District 67: Larry Selders

District 68: Scott McKnight

District 70: Barbara Freiberg

District 88: Brandon Trosclair

Judicial

19th District, Div. L: Trae Welch

Welch, a Metro Councilman, has had experience as a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He supports changes to the system, like the new 72-hour arraignment, and says he will be prepared for court—on time and full-time.

To start his campaign, Ron Johnson earned this Advocate headline, “Baton Rouge judge candidate in hot water for wearing judicial robe in ads, soliciting contributions.” Both are violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct. He agreed to destroy all advertisements “where you appear in a judicial robe and/or use the phrase `2019 Elect our Judge Johnson.’” Johnson’s brother, Don, is a sitting district judge. Ron Johnson says it was an oversight. You be the judge.