BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana voters may not be paying much attention, but there’s a statewide election only a week away. Top of the ballot are the selection of a new state treasurer and decisions on three constitutional changes.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler, the state’s top elections official, predicts voter turnout might not reach 15 percent, based on the number of people who turned up to vote early and the participation in a similar low-profile 2010 special election for lieutenant governor.
Here are five things to know about the Oct. 14 election:
The Louisiana treasurer’s job is vacant for the first time in 17 years. Republican John Kennedy left the position earlier this year after his election to the U.S. Senate. His top aide, Ron Henson, has been working as interim treasurer until someone is elected.
Six candidates are vying for the seat in the special election, which is expected to be decided in a Nov. 18 runoff.
The top three GOP contenders are: Angele Davis, a Baton Rouge business consultant who was a state budget administrator for Govs. Mike Foster and Bobby Jindal; Sen. Neil Riser, a funeral home owner and bank board member from Caldwell Parish; former Rep. John Schroder, a businessman and former law enforcement official from St. Tammany Parish.
New Orleans area lawyer Derrick Edwards has done little fundraising for the race but is expected to reach the runoff because he’s the only Democrat in the race. Also running are Terry Hughes, a Lafayette Republican, and Joseph Little, a Libertarian from Ponchatoula.
TOUGH TO DRAW INTEREST
This latest statewide competition comes after three years of intense election cycles for Louisiana, including the presidential race, hard-fought congressional races and a heated contest for governor.
Candidates in the treasurer’s race blame election burnout among the causes for their trouble drawing voter interest — and fundraising dollars — this time. Plus, the job is a ministerial one, making it more difficult to explain to voters.
Louisiana’s treasurer is the state banker, investing, disbursing and managing the state’s money and its savings accounts. The treasurer chairs the Bond Commission, which oversees state borrowing and debt levels.
But the commercials, social media buys and other advertising done by the candidates hasn’t really focused on any of that. Republican candidates instead have touted their conservative credentials. Davis has talked of her allegiance to Donald Trump, Riser has talked of his anti-tax votes and Schroder has talked of the need to cut state spending. Edwards has talked of introducing more transparency into state government and ending wasteful spending.
Voters statewide also will consider whether to add three new provisions to the Louisiana Constitution.
The first would create a property tax break for all property delivered to a construction site for use in building industrial plants, companies and houses.
The next amendment would expand a property tax exemption given to the surviving spouses of police officers and certain others who die in the line of duty so that the tax break covers surviving spouses of more first responders, such as paramedics.
The final amendment would direct money from any new tax levied on gasoline or other motor fuels into a protected fund, to be spent on direct costs associated with transportation projects and prohibited from paying for state employee salaries.
In all or part of 13 parishes, voters will fill a seat on the Louisiana Public Service Commission, a five-member panel that regulates utilities across the state.
Three Republicans are competing for the District 2 seat, which represents parts of the Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Houma areas. The position was vacated by Scott Angelle, who took a job leading the federal agency that regulates offshore oil and gas drilling. The election will fill the remaining portion of the term that runs through 2018.
Also on the ballot are several judgeships, two vacant state House seats, an array of municipal positions and local proposition elections.
The most high-profile local competitions are in New Orleans, where 18 candidates are vying to be the city’s next mayor since Democrat Mitch Landrieu is term-limited. The city also has contested city council seats.
Twelve of Louisiana’s 64 parishes only have the treasurer’s seat and the three amendments on their ballots. Voters seeking more details about local elections can find that online at the Secretary of State’s website or on the Geaux Vote mobile app.
Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte