Profiling House Dist. 8 candidates Pt. 1

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Lowrie & Crews share thoughts on budget, priorities, and more

Four candidates will vie for the Louisiana House District 8 seat on March 25.

Michael “Duke” Lowrie, Robbie Gatti Jr., Raymond Crews, and Patrick Harrington will all vie for the seat. Lowrie, Gatti, and Crews are Bossier City Republicans; Harrington is a Republican from Benton.

The election will replace Congressman Mike Johnson, who vacated the seat after he was elected to the U.S. House in December 2016. The winner will serve out the remainder of Johnson’s term, which runs through 2019.

The Bossier Press-Tribune is speaking with all four candidates and asking them the following questions:

1. Why do you want to be a state representative?

2. Tell me what your priority will be for our area when it comes time to be in Baton Rouge…

3. Our state is in a recession and at a crossroads when it comes to our budget and revenue. What are your ideas about how to correct this and help bring everything back into balance?

4. Secondly, there are several issues we hear that are vitally important to Bossier residents – transportation, education, economic development – how will you go about ensuring that these are addressed and not tabled or cut due to state funding issues?

5. Our delegation has been vital to ensuring NWLA gets funding for projects here in Bossier. What are your plans to work with other fellow legislators from Bossier-Shreveport to ensure that NWLA isn’t looked over in favor of south Louisiana?

In today’s edition, you will read responses from Duke Lowrie and Raymond Crews. Check back next week for the second part and see responses from Robbie Gatti and Patrick J. Harrington.

Duke Lowrie

Mr. Lowrie is a lifelong resident of Bossier Parish and served as a firefighter for 20 years in the Bossier City Fire Department. He is also Co-owner of Acadiana Mortgage, Acadiana Farms, and Acadiana Energy. In addition to both Lowrie’s service and business experience, he has been extremely involved with conservative, sportsmen, and religious organizations. Lowrie serves on the Republican State Central Committee and is vice chairman of the Bossier Parish Republican Parish Executive Committee (PEC). He has also served as a Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2012 and as a Statewide Trump Delegate in July. He is a Founding Member and Past Chairman of the Northwest Chapter of the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, a Life Member of the NRA for more than 20 years, and a member of Gun Owners of America. He is also a member of Louisiana Right to Life, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), the Louisiana Homebuilders Association, Bossier Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, and the Military Affairs Council.

You can read his responses below:

1. I feel that I am uniquely qualified to be the sate representative because as a lifelong resident of Bossier, I’ve seen the growth in Bossier and I know the history and problems of Bossier. Working in Bossier City as a firefighter, I have the municipal knowledge of how city government operates and I think that works with how state government operates. They are more similar than you think. Being small business owner, I have insight about the struggles and hurdles our industry is having to overcome. The Shreveport-Bossier area had the fourth highest job loss due to the problems in the oil and gas industry. As a state legislator, I could prevent some of the overregulation on that industry by other government bodies. I am the only candidate in this race who has been to Baton Rouge and lobbied against Common Core. I am the only person in this race who lobbied and testified against tax increases. I have supported people who want to limit the size of government, and I have been doing it for years.

2. I want to try to improve the tax structure of the state. Structurally, our budget process and tax structure is outdated. The whole thing needs to be pulled out by the roots and redone. Since 2004, our budget has grown 3.5% percent each year. Our population has remained stagnant, but the state government has continued to grow. Most of all the departments that generate revenue, that money is not rolled back into general revenue it just disappears into that department. Departments that won’t submit a budget smaller than the previous year. We need to go over every department with a fine tooth comb.

3. I don’t believe we’re having the proper oversight on departments in the state. We’re sending money to Georgia to do black bear studies in Louisiana. Why send money outside Louisiana to do a study about our state? It’s time we put everything on the table and examine every department line by line because they are not making the attempt to reduce the budgets like they can. There’s over 300 statutory dedications and we need to put them on the table and look at them. We need to look at our state and budget through the lens of “What is our priority?” Sure, if you put 100 people in a room, they’re not all going to have the same priority. But we have to prioritize what the proper role of government in Louisiana is and what the people want it to be.

4. The best thing we can do to help our community on all aspects is that we ensure we’ve got a good tax structure for business and individuals. We need to prevent, for example, the state raiding things such as the Transportation Trust Fund. There’s been discussion of a gas tax increase to address road issues. We already had a fund that was supposed to do that. How do we go to taxpayers ask them to pay another tax set up for that same thing we raided? We have to earn back the trust of people in our community. The best way to help roads, education, and hospitals is to correct the budget problems and make things stable.

5. I’ve been friends with Dodie Horton (R-Haughton) since I was a kid. She and I talk on a regular basis about issues as it pertains to Baton Rouge and the community. Serving on the PEC, we’ve helped resolve issues that come up. I already have a track record of working with our delegation for years. It’s a second nature to me. I’m the only guy who has authored legislation on numerous issues – social issues, taxes – by writing committees. I’ve got a huge relationship outside our district with legislators across the state which would benefit the citizens of Bossier. I don’t have to go down and develop relationships.

Raymond Crews

Mr. Crews is a combat veteran who served 17 years in the United States Air Force, flying combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. After his service in the military, Raymond flew for national airline companies and later started to small business here in Bossier City. Raymond is very active in the community and his home church of First Bossier, where he recently served as Chairman of Deacons.

You can find his answers below:

1. I feel it’s a need, a calling. Until this point, I was an active over but that was my limit of politics. After reading a few books and seeing a few campaigns, Mike Johnson’s in particular, I saw a few things going on that were misrepresenting him and a few people misrepresenting themselves. The Bible tells us to “love mercy and seek justice” and I don’t think that was covered as well as it should be by some candidates.

2. I want to represent the people here. We have a very conservative district and I feel fortunate where people are aligned in the same conservative viewpoint I share. With my military background, I know that Barksdale Air Force Base is a great economic engine, but it has some great assets we overlook — military members bring a sense of order and responsibility . That would be a travesty to see it diminish in our community. With the way the legislature is and (who) our governor is, we have to prevent any further erosion in the tax and business climate have. I don’t want erosion of gun laws, we want to make sure we have the full rights of the Second Amendment. And I want to advance the cause of life. By valuing life, you set that life is sacred, we realize people have an inherent dignity, and craft policies around that dignity and cultivate that sense to where they know a job is important, contributing to society is important, being a part of the community is important.

3. I think we’ve got to look at business and industry. We’ve got to give companies incentives. As you increase that component, we’re going to get revenue out of the taxes we’ve already designed. We need a bigger tax base. We hear about people moving out of our state and businesses relocating. We have a vast amount of natural resources we can capitalize on. With a new (presidential) administration, people are realizing there’s a lot of potential and new technology is making that easier to realize.

4. We need to look at budget. By now, most people know there only two items left to cut — healthcare and education — because we have all these carveouts that can’t be touched. We have a $27 billion budget and a $304 million shortfall. If you divide that evenly throughout the budget, would be about a 1-1.5% cut, which most people would say they could stand. But with those carveouts, that makes it a real big burden on just a few sectors. We also need to identify inefficiencies and improve those. For example, the Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy produced a large document with recommendations. I’m not sure everybody that needs to read it has read it and looked at the problems. If we’re going to spend money to compile that type of report, we need to look into what it says.

5. We have to have a presence in Baton Rouge on continual basis. It is easy to forget we’re up here. It’s a four-hour drive from here to Baton Rouge. We’ve got to have people invested and we need more than just legislators. Our constituents need to communicate their concerns to legislators. We need to get together and figure out as a single entity, if we could speak with the North Louisiana Economic Partnership to get more presence so they realize how important we are and what our needs are.