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Got Money?

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Qualifying for the November elections is just around the corner.  It’s August 20-22.  If you have the fire in the belly to run for an elected office, the first thing you should think about is money.

First off, there are the qualifying fees a candidate must pay when he or she qualifies.  Here are the fees for some of the offices on the ballot this fall:

*U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative – A $600 qualifying fee, plus a fee of $300 for the party’s State Central Committee.

*Supreme Court Associate Justice and Public Service Commissioner – A $450 qualifying fee, plus a fee of $225 for the party’s State Central Committee.

*District Court Judge – A $300 qualifying fee, plus $150 to the party’s State Central Committee and another $150 to the Parish Executive Committee.

*Juvenile Court Judge and District Attorney – A $225 qualifying fee, plus $112.50 to the State Central Committee and $112.50 to the Parish Executive Committee.

*School Board – A $115 qualifying fee, plus  $57.50 to the State Central Committee and $57.50 to the Parish Executive Committee.

*City Court Judge, City Marshal, and Constable  – A $75 qualifying fee and $37.50 to the State Central Committee and $37.50 to the Parish Executive Committee.

*Mayor and City Council for Shreveport – A $300 qualifying fee, plus $150 to the party’s State Central Committee and $150 to the party’s Parish Executive Committee.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A sign of the times

It’s election season, and with it comes political signs, and with them usually come controversy.  It was four years ago when mayoral candidate Bryan Wooley got into hot water because some of his signs were too large for their locations.

His answer was to cut them in half and place the two pieces side-by-side to skirt the zoning regulations.

That decision, of course, created more controversy.

Last week, a controversy developed over the signs posted on the campaign headquarters of mayoral candidate Patrick Williams, located at 1302 Youree Drive, which officially opens on August 19.

It’s a given that in an election battle candidates and their supporters will be looking for opportunities for criticism of the opposition.  So it has come to pass already for the 2014 elections.

There were allegations that the two signs on the building were too big and needed permits before being erected.  Members of the Williams campaign said that permits were not needed.

When the Fax-Net started receiving complaints about the signs, we went to the appropriate authority for an answer – Alan Clarke, the Zoning Administrator for the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Clarke said the signs are large enough that did require a permit before being erected.  He added that he had not been contacted by the Williams campaign about the signs, but that he was receiving calls from other people about them.

One local political observer commented, “You would think with at least three attorneys helping with  the campaign, they would have checked to see if a permit was needed for the huge signs.”

So expect non-supporters of Williams to jump on this issue – they likely already have – saying that if he does not know zoning regulations how will he enforce them as mayor.  It’s an issue that will put Williams on the defensive about his knowledge of city government.  A phone call to Clarke before erecting the signs would have avoided the problem.

Let this be a lesson in Political Signs 101 for incumbents and candidates.  Know the rules and regulations governing the size of signs and the locations where they are placed.  One call – that’s all – can eliminate unnecessary controversy.

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.