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Opinion: Elections lie ahead in 2015

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The Mardi Gras season may be what’s on most folks’ entertainment calendars heading into the new year, but 2015 also brings us a busy political year.  And it starts early.

The 2014 elections were barely over when signs for state House District 8 candidate Mike Johnson began appearing along Benton Road.  Johnson looks to replace former District 8 Rep. Jeff Thompson who was unopposed in his run for a seat on the 26th Judicial District Court bench.

While Johnson is the only announced candidate for the vacant seat, he’s already received the endorsement of the Louisiana Business and Industry’s political action committee, NORTHPAC.  NORTHPAC’s mid-December press release noted Johnson’s  “…15 years experience serving the Louisiana Legislature as an attorney, consultant and author of many landmark pieces of legislation …” as well as his small business experience and national reputation as a constitutional attorney.

Qualifying for the election to fill Thompson’s seat is January 7-9, 2015; the primary election will be held on February 21, 2015, and the general election for this cycle will be March 28.

That March 28 election will be of special interest to Bossier City voters who will cast ballots on the renewal of two of the city’s ad valorem property tax millages.

This is an important election for Bossier City residents; the property tax millages up for renewal are those that fund the operations and maintenance of the city’s police and fire departments.

These millages were last renewed by voters in 2004.  At that time, about 10 percent of the city’s voters turned out to approve the 10-year term of the millages at 10.47 mills and 3.4 mills respectively.

An interesting observation about of these millages has to do with the strongest supporters of the renewals.  It’s the fire and police personnel who work to get these issues passed – generally not the citizens who are the actual beneficiaries of having first class public safety departments available in our city.  Perhaps that will change in 2015 and voters will be as serious about continuing these services as are those who provide them.

We’re afforded a break from the political calendar over the late spring and into summer, but then the political agendas really gin up with races running the gamut from Louisiana Governor and other state offices, to local offices including the Bossier Parish Police Jury, Tax Assessor, and Clerk of Court.  Those local offices are up for grabs all over the state.

Qualifying for these offices is September 8-10, 2015.  The primary election is set for October 24, with the general election to be held on November 21.

Although there’s been some mention of possible opposition for Bossier Parish Police Jurors, it’s not clear where the dissatisfaction is with the Jury’s overall performance.  Between a vastly improved and improving parish transportation system, a new wastewater treatment plan in progress, and a consistently conservative budget, the Jury appears to be doing a commendable job.

But any opposition to current Jurors ought to be evident in signs and push cards by late summer.

That’s true as well for Tax Assessor Bobby Edmiston and Clerk of Court Cindy Johnston.  Edmiston, first elected in 1998, had opposition in 2003 and 2011, but easily overcame contenders.  Johnston was elected in 2007 and unopposed in her 2011 re-election bid.  While the Clerk’s office doesn’t generally experience much in the way of publicity, it’s a different story for the Assessor – who’s responsible for setting property values on which property tax bills are based.  So far, however, Edmiston has convinced voters that he’s best qualified to administer the Assessor’s office.

Finally, and at this point in his term of office, the likelihood of Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington drawing opposition would seem slim to none.  By all counts, Whittington is the most popular political figure in Bossier Parish.

It looks to be a lively 2015 on the political front – and here’s hoping that we’re all active, informed participants.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She may be reached at martycarlson1218@gmail.com