La. governor candidates tout their plans
By DOUG SIMPSON
Associated Press Writer
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) _ Five candidates running for Louisiana governor touted their plans and credentials to a group of educators on Monday, and offered plans for improving children's lives in the state.
North Louisiana Democrat Foster Campbell said public schools should be open in the summer, so lagging students can be tutored. State Sen. Walter Boasso said Louisiana needs a parallel educational system for students involved with crime and drugs, so they can learn trades, earn degrees and stay out of prison.
John Georges, a New Orleans-area Republican businessman, said he'd help students learn by ensuring that each one has a laptop computer on his school desk. Anthony Gentile, a St. Tammany Parish independent, acknowledged he had no quick answers, but pledged perseverance if elected.
“I'm an everyday person, with good common sense,” Gentile said.
Absent was the front-runner, U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, who leads the race in the polls and in fundraising, with about two months left before the primary election.
Boasso was the only candidate who referred to Jindal at the forum _ once by name and once as “the other gentleman who is running.” Boasso then complained that the Kenner Republican has not appeared thus far at any candidate forums.
“We need to know where this candidate stands,” said Boasso, D-Chalmette.
Jindal, who has released broad plans for improving Louisiana's reputation for corruption and lax ethics, was campaigning Monday in St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes, as part of a statewide bus tour.
The other candidates gathered at a Lafayette hotel to field questions focused on education and children's health, though they offered few details on their plans to improve children's lives. They often strayed from the topic: Campbell repeatedly mentioned his plan to raise taxes on energy companies and become a state, like Texas and Florida, without a state income tax.
“I want us to be a rich state, like Texas or Florida,” said Campbell, a member of the Public Service Commission.
T. Lee Horne, a St. Mary Parish Libertarian, drew applause from the crowd of over 100 when he said too many blacks are locked up in an unfair justice system. He said most of Louisiana's problems stemmed from excessive taxes, and said he wants to take Louisiana in an entirely new direction.
“I'm a Libertarian. Elect me: I'll be different,'' he said.
Jindal, Campbell, Georges and Boasso are scheduled to appear at a Baton Rouge debate, to be televised statewide, one week before the Oct. 20 primary. Gentile and Horne were not invited to October debate, which is sponsored by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Council for a Better Louisiana.
Qualifying for the election begins next month. The primary is set for Oct. 20, followed by a November runoff, if necessary. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, is not running for re-election.
Monday's forum was sponsored by Every Child Matters, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.
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