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Election Season Starts Slow

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carlson-martyBossier Parish’s election season for races that include Bossier City Marshal, all Bossier-Webster District Judges and all Bossier Parish School Board seats is off to a slow start.

Two candidates are expected to qualify next month for the Bossier City Marshal’s job – current Bossier City Deputy Marshal and political newcomer Jim Whitman, and former contender for the job, Carl Richard. Richard is a long-time Shreveport Deputy City Marshal.

Richard also came in second (with 29.65 percent of the vote) of a trio running to replace much respected Bossier City Marshal Johnny Wyatt; Richard was bested by retired Bossier City Police Chief Lynn Austin (53.99) – Sammy Wyatt came in last at 16.36 percent in the April 2011 election.

Whitman has reportedly enjoyed two very successful fundraisers and his signs are becoming visible all over Bossier City. Richard’s bus stop benches and digital billboard ads will also draw interest.

Both candidates are seasoned deputy marshals, but Richard has some catching up to do as it concerns Whitman’s Bossier City Marshal experience. That’s particularly true regarding the office’s cyber crimes unit and the role played both in processing electronic devices suspected of being used in crimes – and the office’s very energetic involvement in the state Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children taskforce.

This may be one of the more interesting races of the season.

But that can also be said for the races to fill two Bossier-Webster District Court judgeships. Both Ford Stinson and John Robinson have elected to retire, but the number of candidates to fill these openings has been somewhat paltry to date.

Springhill attorney and Assistant Bossier-Webster District Attorney Charles Jacobs and Bossier City attorney Randall (Randy) Robinson have both announced, but only Jacobs is raising money and campaigning. Jacobs is running for the seat to be vacated by Robinson – who, incidentally, was Jacobs’ first law partner. Randy Robinson hasn’t been at all visible since his newspaper announcement.

Bossier attorneys Whit Graves and Jeff Thompson (also State District 8 House member) have also indicated they are considering a run for the open judgeships, but neither has taken a step toward formally announcing or raising campaign funds. And that’s interesting because the number of judgeships open between Caddo (1st Judicial District Court – 3 vacancies), Shreveport City Court (1 vacancy) and Bossier-Webster (26th JDC – 2 vacancies ) sure indicates a finite amount of money available to be raised for judicial campaigns.

Graves has run for district judge previously, as late as November 2012, coming in second in the three-man race to Mike Nerren who won the race with nearly 41 percent of the vote. He has yet to formally commit to running for the current openings, but he’s apparently making the rounds (maybe just to confuse the candidate issue?).

As for Thompson, it’s hard to imagine that he’d give up his seat in the state legislature for a judgeship. Thompson is a responsive and popular lawmaker who could see his way to a Congressional seat through his strong support of gun rights and other similar and deeply American ideals and issues.

He won’t, however, move in that direction from the cloistered office of district judge – from which political opinions and stands do not emanate.

Finally, all Bossier Parish School Board seats are up for election, but the likelihood of challenge is pretty much limited to the southern district seats. The majority of the current board won’t have any opposition generally because their response to voters’ approval of an April 2012 $210 million bond issue was to have a construction/renovation plan for many of the district’s schools ready to launch on validation of the election results. And the plan is quickly becoming reality to the credit of the board and BPSB administration.

At present, only the seats of south Bossier board members Barbara Rudd, Dist. 11, and Kay Padgett Byrd, Dist. 12, may be at risk as a result of public response to three lawsuits concerning Parkway High School, and particularly the actions of school principal Dr. Nichole Bougeois. Parents were not satisfied with board response the issues raised and may take their dissatisfaction out on Rudd and Byrd – if candidates can be found to run against these incumbents.

All of these election possibilities look to be interesting, but we won’t know until late August which will prove to be the one(s) to watch in Bossier.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at m_carlso@bellsouth.net