Local voters deciding BESE and Senate runoffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2011



LAPLACE – Saturday’s statewide runoff election includes both a state Senate seat and a seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that represent parts of St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes.

The state Senate race is in District 2, where former state Rep. Elton Aubert will face off against previous political candidate Troy Brown. The BESE seat, meanwhile, for that body’s District 2, pits incumbent Louella Givens against political newcomer and Executive Director of Teach for America in New Orleans Kira Orange Jones.

The Senate seat represents portions of eight parishes, including parts of all three River Parishes. The BESE seat includes all of St. John, St. James and St. Charles parishes in addition to parts of Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

In the Senate race primary, Brown earned 34 percent of the vote, while Aubert earned 31 percent. Brown said he has garnered endorsements from primary candidates Al Carter, Mike Bell and George Grace.

Aubert said job creation and educational reform are the key pieces of his platform. He said the state must work harder to make sure the region is an attractive place for new business ventures.

“It is important to develop a trained workforce that has adequate career direction early,” Aubert said. “We cannot continue to waste time and resources with no results.”

Brown, meanwhile, said his grassroots and social media-based campaign worked well, and he intends to continue that route into the runoff. He said the District 2 region showed the highest percentage of voter turnout for the primaries, and he is working to ensure that carries over to the next round.

“It is an eight-parish district, and I finished first in five of the eight and second in the remaining three,” Brown said. “I am confident in my support, and I feel strongly that it will carry me through.”

Brown also emphasized job creation and said he intends to focus on implementing a state high school curriculum that offers more options for students looking outside the traditional four-year college degree. He also wants to see the state do a better job of marketing the River Parishes to the global economy.

In the BESE race, Jones finished with 39 percent of the vote, while Givens finished with 31 percent. Jones has the support of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, state Sen. Joel Chaisson and J.P. Morell, as well as Pastor Ferdinand Wallace of Reserve, one of her opponents in the primary. Givens has endorsements from Pamela Matus, a teacher from LaPlace and the fourth candidate in the primary, Congressman Cedric Richmond and other political leaders in the New Orleans area.