The Hayride’s Endorsement Symposium – BESE And Local Races

Rather than offer a single slate of endorsements from the Hayride, in this cycle since we have a larger and more diverse staff of writers than in previous years we thought we’d put that diversity to use in having each of our writers offer selections on the upcoming races in symposium format.

In this post, our writers pick their favorites in legislative races, though not all of us have opinions in each race since we aren’t all following every one. See here for endorsements in the governor’s race, and here for endorsements in other statewide races and with constitutional amendments. We also offered recommendations on legislative races; find those here.


BESE District 1

John Binder: Lee Barrios.  Barrios may not be a friend to conservatism, but that hardly matters when you’re in a race against Jim Garvey.

As a former reporter in St. Tammany Parish, I extensively covered the issue of Common Core and local education curriculum in school systems across the state. Not only was Garvey absent during much of this debate, he didn’t even act like he cared. Lee Barrios has long been an opponent of Common Core, constantly reiterating how the standards are nothing but a scheme from corporate interests.

While you may not even have a problem with Common Core, it’s so obvious that Garvey is the status quo, the guy that the big money donors want. That’s enough reason to vote against him and for a candidate who literally has no big money backing her.

MacAoidh: Jim Garvey. While Garvey, like Sen. Conrad Appel, has spent far too much time on the Common Core hill which no conservative should be willing to die on, he’s a school choice guy. And plain and simple, BESE must be a body which promotes school choice with as few fetters as possible. Lee Barrios is a lifelong Democrat and a leftist one at that who changed parties to Republican, Forest Wright-style, in an effort to fool a conservative district into voting for her. Such behavior needs to be punished, not rewarded.

Kevin Boyd: Jim Garvey Garvey is an outstanding member of BESE. He has been consistently pro school choice and pro education reform throughout his tenure. He deserves support on his own merit. He especially deserves your support when you compare him to his opponent, Lee Barrios. Barrios is a shill of the teacher’s unions who has been affiliated “no party”, Democrat, and Republican just this year. Unfortunately, the only reason she has been able to get traction is by convincing the same bored housewives who oppose fracking in St. Tammany Parish that she will fight Common Core. Don’t be fooled, Garvey is the real conservative in the race.

BESE District 2

John Binder: Kara Tamara Washington. The only reason to endorse Washington, who is a Democrat, is that she is backed by the Flip BESE organization, which is made up of parents around the state who are at odds with BESE. Washington’s opponent Kira Orange Jones, also a Democrat, has done nothing but stick up for corporate and state interests in local school systems. That’s reason enough to throw her out and bring in someone new like Washington.

MacAoidh: Kira Orange Jones. I couldn’t disagree more with Binder here, because the Flip BESE people are a front for the teacher unions, and while I’m no particular fan of Common Core what’s important isn’t what the ultimate form the compromise on how the state’s educational standards look and what curricula are chosen to meet them, but whether Louisiana is a state where there is a marketplace in education. The steps we’ve taken so far are but baby steps on that score; much more is needed, and while Jones might not be someone willing to go far enough (I don’t know whether she is or isn’t), the Flip BESE crowd doesn’t like school choice at all.

Kevin Boyd: Kira Orange Jones Jones is a Democrat, but in District 2 you will not elect a Republican. Jones has been a consistent supporter of school choice, charter schools, and education reform. She deserves another term. This is especially true when you compare her to her opponent, Kara Washington. Progressive blogger Peter Cook points out that Washington is opposed to even being held accountable as a principal for her work. Washington puts the teacher’s unions first while Jones puts kids first.

BESE District 3

Kevin Boyd: Sandy Holloway. Lottie Beebe is one of the worst members of BESE. The RINO Beebe is an opponent of both school choice and charter schools. She is a shill for the teacher’s unions and has been a failure for Louisiana’s children. If a mangy dog stepped up to challenge Beebe, I would have to give it a fair hearing. Even better for Louisiana’s children, Sandy Holloway stepped up. She’s an accomplished educator and charter school administrator. She has won the support of all four LABI affiliated PACs and a strong supporter of school choice and higher standards. Change is desperately needed in that seat.

MacAoidh: Sandy Holloway. Even if I didn’t know Sandy Holloway was terrific I’d be for her, because the end of Lottie Beebe’s political career needs to come in this cycle. She’s a disaster. District 3 can do itself a huge favor by making the upgrade.

BESE District 4

Joe Cunningham: Tony Davis. If this race is on your ballot, I need you to hear me out. Tony Davis is the only candidate in this race who isn’t just out there to shout down Common Core. Tony’s goal is to come to the table and find what works for Louisiana. This isn’t about what isn’t working, but what we could make work. His experience in raising money to fund STEM initiatives and other programs in Natchitoches Parish schools shows he absolutely knows what our school systems need in order to be competitive with other states. You don’t find that in the other two candidates.

Kevin Boyd: Tony Davis Davis is the President of the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce. He will be a strong supporter of school choice and high standards. He has been endorsed by LABI. He deserves your support.

MacAoidh: Tony Davis. See Joe and Kevin’s rationales above.

BESE District 5

Kevin Boyd: Gary Jones. Jones is the former superintendent of Rapides Parish Schools and worked in the Louisiana Department of Education under Secretary John White. I was skeptical of him at first but I was convinced to give him a second look. He is a supporter of charter schools, school choice, and higher standards. He has been endorsed by LABI. He deserves election on his merits but it’s especially true when you compare him to his opponent, Johnny Fatheree. Fatheree is a nutcase running on the anti-reform “Flip BESE” slate. Fatheree is unqualified to serve.

MacAoidh: Gary Jones. Johnny Fatheree is a dumpster fire.

BESE District 6

Kevin Boyd: Jason Engen. Engen is a businessman and an Air Force veteran. He’s a very sharp young man with a bright political future ahead of him. He will be trying to fill Chaz Roemer’s big shoes on BESE. He is a supporter of higher standards and school choice. He is also a strong supporter of allowing high school kids to graduate with a career certificate as well as a diploma so they can enter the workforce. Engen has been co-endorsed by LABI and the Baton Rouge Business Report.

MacAoidh: Jason Engen. My only complaint with Engen is I want him in the legislature rather than BESE, but he stepped up to run in a field that would have been problematic in the wake of Chas Roemer’s having walked away from his seat as president of the board. Another candidate, Laree Taylor, is also acceptable, but I think Engen might be the best bet in a runoff against Etta Licciardi or Kathy Edmonston, the other two major candidates who scare the hell out of me. Any BESE candidate who disagrees with the concept of closing failed schools, as Edmonston and Licciardi have publicly done, is a disaster; it’s the lack of fear of extinction which is the single most prominent reason why public education is in decline in this country, and if you can’t see that changing that is crucial to fixing it you cannot be part of the solution.

BESE District 7

Kevin Boyd: Holly Boffy. Boffy is one of the better members of BESE and deserves reelection. She has been a consistent supporter of high standards, charter schools, and school choice. As a result, she is a top target of both the teacher’s unions and the anti-reform “Flip BESE” slate. She deserves the vote of every conservative in the district.

MacAoidh: Holly Boffy. It keeps coming back to the same thing – if you want to keep school choice, you need to keep the people who support it on BESE. School choice is far more important than the Common Core debate, no matter what the Flip BESE mob might try to delude voters into believing.

BESE District 8

Kevin Boyd: Jada Lewis. Carolyn Hill is probably the worst member of BESE. She’s a shill for the teacher’s unions and an opponent of pretty much every education reform idea out there. She works for the teacher’s unions and school boards, not for Louisiana’s children. It’s no surprise she’s being backed by the teacher’s unions and the anti-reform “Flip BESE” slate. Stepping up against her though is Democrat Jada Lewis, an assistant dean of engineering at LSU. She supports charter schools, high standards, and school choice. Lewis is also pushing increased STEM education. She has been endorsed by LABI, Stand for Children, and other education reform advocates.

MacAoidh: Jada Lewis. For all the reasons Kevin outlined above.


East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court

MacAoidh: Doug Welborn. Welborn has done a solid job in that post for quite some time, and he’s being challenged by perpetual candidate Sarah Holliday. At some point we might need to find Holliday a position in which she can serve the public; this isn’t it.

St. Tammany Parish President

Kevin Boyd: Leave it blank. Parish President Pat Brister has refused to stand up to the Parish Council on fracking. Her three opponents, including two anti-fracking activists, are simply unacceptable for various reasons. Skip this race.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff

Kevin Boyd: Randy Smith. Smith is the current Slidell Police Chief. He has led a department that is among the most professional in Louisiana. I don’t have anything in particular against Sheriff Jack Strain, but this is one race where voters need to make a change for the sake of change. Strain has served well, but it is time for him to retire.

St. Tammany Parish Council District 7

Kevin Boyd: Jacki Schneider or Joseph “Joe Demco” Savarese. The current councilman, Jake Groby, is one of the worst public servants in Louisiana. When he’s not killing St. Bernard residents with brain-eating amoeba as head water quality control for St. Bernard, he’s actively working to suppress domestic energy production in his part-time job as St. Tammany Councilman. Groby needs to go. Either Schneider or Savarese would be a great replacement for Groby.

St. Tammany Clerk of Court

Kevin Boyd: Anybody but Nelson Rivers. Nelson Rivers is an attorney in Covington who made bogus allegations of corruption in the Clerk of Court’s office that forced Clerk of Court Malice Prieto to decide not to seek reelection. There are other issues involving Prieto, but they nothing to do with her tenure as Clerk of Court. Rivers has then turned his attention to sliming the other opponents in the race, Deputy Clerk of Court Melissa Henry and former Covington City Councilman Matt Faust. Rivers has not offered a positive or realistic solution in this race. Either Henry or Faust will serve well in the position.


Natchitoches Parish President

Joe Cunningham: Rick Nowlin. I’ve written about this before, but John Salter is not the kind of guy Natchitoches Parish needs as president. His entire candidacy is about trashing current system of government and promising to fix the parish roads – something that simply can’t be done in a single term. Rick Nowlin, meanwhile, has completely revamped the parish government to reduce its spending and work the parish back to fiscal state that can slowly begin the process of working on the roads. If you want a guy to undo all that work and ruin your best shot to fix the roads, then sure, go for Salter. If you want to stay the course and fix Natchitoches Parish, keep Rick Nowlin.

Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court

Joe Cunningham: David Stamey. This one pains me because I know and like two candidates in that race. David Stamey is stellar member of the community, a city councilman, and is a pretty solid conservative. Louis Byers is a hard-working member of the sheriff’s department whose wife has also done some pretty amazing work in that office. Natchitoches would do well to have either one, but I support David Stamey in this race.

Lafayette Sheriff

Joe Cunningham: Rick Chargois, This has been a pretty awesome race in terms of Louisiana politics. Mark Garber lied about being a veteran, and recently a tape showed up of him in Honduras promising to help illegal immigrants file worker’s compensation in Louisiana. There are a couple decent candidates in this race, but Rick Chargois is top tier, and Lafayette would do well to support him.

Lafayette City-Parish President

Joe Cunningham: Dee Stanley. There is no shortage of coverage here at The Hayride on how terrible Joel Robideaux is at being a Republican. Now, he wants to be city-parish president in Lafayette. At a time when a key industry in Lafayette, oil and gas, is suffering due to price drops, some people actually want a guy who is a big spender to lead the city-parish government. Lafayette deserves better and needs to support Dee Stanley for the job.



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