President, senator, LDEC tax top Nov. 4 ballot

Aaron E. Looney

After a week of record-breaking early voting across the state, Ascension Parish voters who didn’t cast their ballots ahead of Tuesday’s general election will help decide the fate of numerous national, state and district races as well as seven state constitutional amendment propositions and a proposed 20-year, 3-mill parish property tax to purchase the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

Polling places across the parish open at 6 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.

At the top of the ballot will be the race for U.S. President. Headlining the ballot will be Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and facing Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Obama is joined on the Democratic ticket by U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, while Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is McCain’s running mate.

Third-party tickets on the ballot include Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente; Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin and running made Darrell Castle; Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader and running mate Matt Gonzales; Louisiana Taxpayers Party presidential candidate Ron Paul and running mate Barry Goldwater Jr., Prohibition Party presidential candidate Gene Admondson and running mate Leroy Pletten, Socialism and Liberation Party presidential candidate Gloria La Riva and running mate Eugene Puryear and Socialist Workers Party candidate James Harris and running mate Alyson Kennedy.

Voters will also decide if Louisiana will have a new U.S. Senator, as incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu of New Orleans faces Republican John Kennedy of Baton Rouge, who is also Louisiana’s state treasurer.

Other candidates in the senate race include Libertarian Richard Fontanesi of Baton Rouge, No Party candidate Jay Patel of Hammond and Robert Stewart of New Orleans, whose registered party affiliation is Other.

Seven proposed amendments to the state’s constitution will also go before voters in Ascension Parish and across the state. The proposals include:

• Amendment 1, which calls for the setting of term limits for members of numerous statewide boards and commissions. If passed, members of these boards, no members who has served for more than 2 1/2 terms in three consecutive terms could be appointed or elected to the succeeding term. Also, members could only serve on one of these boards or commissions.

• Amendment 2, which would require a proclamation to call the legislature into extraordinary session at least seven calendar days prior to convening the session.

• Amendment 3, which would require “prompt and temporary” succession to the powers and duties of a legislator if they are unable to perform the functions and duties of the office due to being ordered to active military duty.

• Amendment 4, which increases the maximum amount of the severance tax imposed and collected by the state on natural resources other than sulfur, lignite and timber.

• Amendment 5, which calls for the transfer or special assignment of property when it has been sold to or expropriated by federal, state or local government or another political subdivision.

• Amendment 6, which provides an exception to the requirement of first refusal for the owner of property declared as surplus when it is taken for removal of a threat to public health and safety.

• Amendment 7, which authorizes the investment of state or local funds that have been reserved for post-employment benefits other than pensions.

Voters in the northern reaches of the parish will also choose who they want to serve as their U.S. Representative for the 6th Congressional District. Incumbent Democrat Don Cazayoux of New Roads, who won election to the seat following the resignation of former Rep. Richard Baker, will face challengers include Republican Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge and independent Michael Jackson, also of Baton Rouge.

The District 1 seat on the state’s Public Service Commission, which includes Ascension Parish in its coverage, will also be decided Tuesday. The two candidates looking to succeed outgoing Commissioner Jay Blossman are independent John F. Schwegmann and Republican Eric Skrmetta, both of Metairie.

Parish voters will also decide the fate of a proposed 20-year, 3-mill property tax that would fund the purchase, upgrade and maintenance of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. The parish currently leases the facility from the Lamar-Dixon Foundation.

In local races, incumbent 3rd Justice Court Justice of the Peace Jamie Frederic-Braud will face John C. Hebert in a runoff. Both candidates are registered Democrats.

Meanwhile, Democrat George “G.W.” Anderson and Republican Danny P. Thibodeaux will square off for the Constable position in the parish’s 2nd Justice Court.

Be sure to visit and read the Nov. 7 edition of the Weekly Citizen for complete election results.