With the October 12 primary election getting closer, candidates for the legislative seats in Washington Parish have been campaigning hard.
The District 12 state Senate seat covers all of Washington Parish, as well as parts of St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes.
Incumbent state Sen. Beth Mizell is seeking re-election. She is a Republican. Mizell won her first term in 2015. Her opponent is Democrat Darrell Fairburn, superintendent of Washington Parish Schools. Fairburn is slated to retire from his superintendent’s position at the end of the year.
The 75th District state representative seat covers all of Washington Parish except a small portion of the far western parish. District 75 also covers a small area of far northeast St. Tammany Parish.
Incumbent state Rep. Malinda White is runningfor re-election. She is a Democrat, first elected in 2015. Running against her is Phillipp Bedwell, a Republican and a former parish councilman.
All four of the legislative candidates said they have been knocking on doors, shaking hands, and meeting with as many voters as possible. Each of the candidates have formed opinions as to which issues are spoken of the most by the citizens they have been meeting with.
Darrell Fairburn, running for state Senate, said he hears many concerns from voters but “the major ones concern education, higher education, technical community colleges, enviornmental issues, and Medicaid.”
He said voters want to know how the state is going to fund education and Medicaid.
Fairburn is looking for a large turnout in the October 12 primary, with plenty of interest being expressed by the voters. He said the fact that a governor will be elected will serve to enhance turnout.
Beth Mizell said the voters she is meeting are expressing deep concerns about the economy. “This includes taxes that are too high, too few opportunities, and too big government,” she said.
She said that if she is re-elected, she’s looking forward to working to improve the tax climate in Louisiana, reform insurance rates, and in general work to improve the economy. She also said that improving internet availability to rural areas of Washington Parish has been and will continue to be a priority for her.
Mizell added that she is looking for the new state Senate elected in October to be “a new world” because of term limits, which have resulted in the removal of 14 senators. “Some of them were there for over 40 years,” she said.
Malinda White sees the opioid epidemic as being a major issue in Washington Parish. “It has affected many families in my district, impacting all aspects of their lives.”
She also said the flooding and infrastructure have been ongoing concerns of many residents of the parish. “Especially because of the floods of 2016 and 2018,” she noted. Drainage, watershed issues, logjams in the Pearl River, and FEMA assistance for property owners have been top priorities for her during her first term, she said.
White said that playing a role in obtaining the funding for Highway 3241 from Bush to I-12 has been something she is proud of. The four-lane highway will directly connect Washington Parish to I-12, she said.
She said as a representative, she “continually promotes Washington Parish as having the 5th lowest property taxes in the entire state, as well as additional industrial tax incentives for economic development on both sides of the parish, and fertile land and rolling hills, Northshore Technical Community College, improve K-12 schools, and a strong faith based community in which to raise a family.
Phillipp Bedwell said he has campaigned personally throughout the parish, and he hears three main areas of concern when talking to voters: taxes and budget; insurance; and jobs.
“The voters are tired of the continous tax increases and they want something done to rein in the out of control spending,” he said.
“Also, they see the cost of insurance as being too high and they don’t understand why something hasn’t already been done about it.”
He noted that people are actually moving out of Louisiana because of the lack of jobs here. “That’s one of the big concerns for voters,” he said.
Bedwell said voters of District 75 are “tired of the old political machine and having one or two families trying to run the parish and control everything.”
Early voting for the October 12 election will be from September 28 through October 5, except for Sunday.
Each of the two legislative races reported on above has only two candidates, but for other races which might require run-offs, the general election will be November 16.