Democrat Marilyn Bellock and Republican Gregory Miller will both seek the State Senate 19th District seat in October, vying for a senatorial district that spans Jefferson, Lafourche, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parishes. The 19th District state senate seat is being vacated by Norco attorney Gary Smith, a registered Democrat whose term ends this year.
Like Smith, Miller, 61, is also a Norco-based business owner and attorney who has practiced law in the region for close to 35 years, with a law practice focused primarily on property law, including wills, estates, successions and similar matters. Miller seeks the State Senate position after serving three terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives, District 56.
Miller has served on several Louisiana House of Representative committees, including the House Select Leadership, House and Governmental Affairs and House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure which he currently chairs.
Bellock, 62, is a 30-year St. Rose resident, military veteran, business owner and current two-term St. Charles Parish Council District V council member. The St. Rose resident sits on multiple political and nonprofit committees and boards, ranging from the Sunset Drainage District, South Central Planning District, State of Louisiana Black Caucus, Louisiana Policy Jury Association, among others.
Candidate Bellock pointed out two possible firsts for her candidacy – she believes she may be the first woman to run for the 19th District Senate seat, and stated she also appears to be the district’s first African American candidate.
Bellock has made infrastructure a primary component of her campaign, key areas she said the 19th District could not afford to ignore.
“We all need drainage, we all need levee protection,” Bellock commented. “Everyone reverts back to infrastructure, because if that’s crumbling, [it will] cause our insurance rates to go even higher,” she said.
If elected, Bellock planned to give an equally high focus on insurance rates and Risk Rating 2.0, both of which have been an especially difficult challenge for local area residents’ budgets in recent years.
Criminal justice reform and gun rights were two additional areas Bellock said she planned to address if elected to the 19th District seat, along with a push for lowering taxes for residents.
Bellock said she would like to implement new policies or programs to address Louisiana’s “brain drain,” the loss of young talent in Louisiana who move to other states for work opportunities.
Should she win the senate seat, Bellock said she would work to “help [recent college graduates] stay here and have a better quality of life here in Louisiana, without leaving their hometowns, or without having to go too far.”
Like Bellock, Miller said his senate campaign platform has its focus on several key areas, one of the foremost being economic development.
“I think we really need to create an environment in this state that will lead to job growth and give a reason for our children and grandchildren to stay here and raise their families,” Miller said. “I keep hearing about people moving to Texas and Florida, and that those states are growing – well, we need to get back to where people want to look at and move to Louisiana, so that we can get this state growing.”
Infrastructure and a continued levee improvement program are paramount for the local area, Miller said, focal points he aims to keep his sights on, along with continual drainage improvements for St. Charles Parish and the surrounding areas. Crime and particularly juvenile crime matters were two additional areas Miller said he’d also seek to tackle as a state senator.
Homeowners insurance has hit most local homeowners particularly hard following Hurricane Ida, a fact Miller stated he’d look to address as state senator.
“We need to continue to try to figure out ways to make homeowners insurance affordable so that [residents] can live here and afford a home,” Miller said.
Attracting new insurance carriers to the state, he commented, brings more competition and lower rates for Louisiana residents, and would be one part of a multi-pronged strategy to help lower premium costs.
Louisiana’s complex tax structure could use reform and simplification, another area Miller said he’d like to address as part of the State Senate. Miller commented that tax simplification, if implemented, would be a benefit to small businesses all over the state.
“I think we have a very antiquated and complicated tax structure; that is a cost, especially on small business,” he pointed out.