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Time to Study for Fall Elections

One of the things I look for when going to vote is the “sample” sheet posted on the wall outside my voting precinct.  These postings provide a sample ballot and couple of times over the years, just the size of the sheet was fairly intimidating – and especially so if spilled over into an additional page or two.

The upcoming November 4, 2014 sample ballot posted outside our Bossier Parish polling places looks to fit that “fairly intimidating” description.

So it’s up to voters to start early on their study of candidates and issues.  Candidates for office qualify from August 20 to 22, and voters will have a slew of folks to consider for public office.  From Congressional seats to deciding the next state Supreme Court Associate Justice, voters will also be deciding whether they’re satisfied with representation of their very popular current Public Service Commissioner, Foster Campbell.

More locally, all District Court Judges are up for re-election; in Bossier-Webster parishes, Judges John Robinson and Ford Stinson have announced their respective retirements – and candidates are already lining up to vie for those seats.  This is a re-election year statewide for District Attorneys, and it’s been suggested that Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin may have opposition as he looks to serve a third term.

All Bossier Parish School Board members are up for re-election, as are Justices of the Peace and Constables.  In Bossier City, the City Court Judge Tommy Wilson isn’t likely to draw an opponent for his seat, but the race for City Marshal is already underway.

Campaign signs for both Jim Whitman and Carl Richard are appearing all over Bossier.

And in Plain Dealing, the mayor, marshal and all aldermen are up for re-election.

If that’s not enough, voters really will need some lead time to consider the 14 proposed Constitutional Amendments that will appear on the November 4 ballot.  Eight of the amendments were proposed by lawmakers in the 2013 legislative session; the balance were a result of the 2014 session.

Typically, these proposed amendments take some review and study – they are written in legalese and often need some interpretation.  Historically, both the Public Affairs Research Council and the Council for a Better Louisiana have offered guides to proposed amendments, so folks interested in learning more will want to check these organization’s websites for more information.

Of course, another source of information for interested voters is our local legislative delegation.  Local lawmakers should be able to provide the list and an explanation of the proposed amendments – just call their local offices.

Finally, there will be local tax issues on the November ballot.  A couple of property tax renewals include Cypress Black Bayou and the parish’s library tax.  And a couple of new propositions will also be on the ballot – more information on those in the next few weeks.

It’s not a stretch to suggest that voters who don’t study the issues and get to know the candidates in order to make their well-considered choices at the ballot box will need to bring a box lunch for the time needed to study that sample ballot posted at their voting precinct.

This is one of those elections that promises sample ballot spill-over to more than a couple of those huge sheets.

And be sure you’re registered to vote – last day to register for the November 4 election is October 6.

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

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