With elections coming up on Oct. 2, St. Charles Parish voters have a lot to consider before heading to the polls. This weekend, votes will be tallied for a single open School Board seat and property taxes for libraries, the E-911 system and roadway lighting for 10 years.
“The local issues on the ballot include those that support and fund vital parish services: street lighting, the library system and 911 emergency service,” said Parish President V.J. St. Pierre. “Voters should know that these measures will not raise current property taxes. They simply allow the Parish Council permission to levy them for the next 10 years at a rate at or below the rate on the ballot.”
Parishioners will also vote on the state Lieutenant Governor position, U.S. Representative for the 3rd Congressional District and a Public Service Commission seat for District 3.
“I want to encourage folks to take a few minutes Saturday to be counted and vote,” St. Pierre said. “There are many activities going on this weekend, and I hope voting will be a priority.”
District 1 is the only School Board seat that voters will get to determine for the upcoming term.
Vying for the seat are incumbent Ellis Alexander, 61, and Milton Allemand Jr., 56.
Both candidates are Hahnville residents and are running independently.
District 1 includes Killona, Hahnville and most of Luling west of Paul Maillard Road and north of Old Spanish Trail. The job pays $9,600 a year, including health insurance.
Alexander, a past Parish Council member and father of four, has been on the School Board since 2007. If elected for another term, Alexander said that his main platform will focus on diversifying the school system.
“I think we need more African American presence in St. Charles Parish Public Schools,” he said. “I’m talking about more teachers, administrators, principals and coaches.”
Other goals include replacing portable classrooms with permanent classrooms, reviewing the teacher hiring process and expanding the curriculum.
Allemand, a life-long resident of the parish, said that he has followed the workings of the school system for a long time and believes that there is room for improvement. In fact, Allemand has encouraged parents of children in the system to serve on the School Board in the past.
“This public school system is one of the best funded in the state,” Allemand said. “With that said, I believe that our students and teachers should have everything, within reason, they need to provide a quality education.
“I will work to reprioritize the budget to get more funding to the classroom.”
If elected, he would aim to spend taxpayer dollars wisely on the needs of students and teachers, encourage cooperation on all levels of the school system, review the district’s practice of charging parents excessive fees each school year, explore the feasibility of adding vocational-technical classes for students who are not college-bound, and encourage parent and community involvement at the School Board level.
While Allemand said he does not believe Alexander has represented his district well, Alexander believes that Allemand will have trouble representing the constituents because he is white and 59 percent of the district’s voting population is black.
Voters will also determine whether to renew property tax rates for the next 10 years on Saturday. Rates being voted on include taxes for libraries, the E-911 system and road lighting.
The proposed rates are 4.5 mills for the library system, 1.75 mills for streetlights and 1 mill for the parish emergency system. The proposed library millage is lower than previous years because of progress made over the past few years with the expansion program that included new buildings in St. Rose, Destrehan and eventually Paradis. The program also included renovations at four other locations.
But the rates are slightly higher for the emergency system and lighting. Voters approved the same millage for the E-911 system in 2000, but it was lowered to .98 mills by the Parish Council in 2008. Taxes levied for the lighting system will be used to operate and repair parish streetlights.
For a $200,000 home, these changes could mean an increase in property taxes of about 38 cents.
If these rates are approved, the parish could levy a total of 26.58 mills of taxation for the year.
The state Lieutenant Governor seat is also up for election. The position opened up earlier this year when Mitch Landrieu gave up his office to become the mayor of New Orleans. One of this year’s candidates will replace interim Lt. Governor Scott Angelle.
Running for the seat are Democrat James “Jim” Crowley of Shreveport, Republican “Jay” Dardenne of Baton Rouge, Republican Kevin Davis of Abita Springs, Democrat Caroline Fayard of New Orleans, Democrat “Butch” Gautreaux of Morgan City, Republican “Sammy” Kershaw of Lafayette, Republican Melanie J. McKnight of Baton Rouge and Republican Roger Villere of Metairie.
In the running for U.S. Representative in the 3rd Congressional District – Republic Party are Republican “Hunt” Downer of Houma and Republican “Jeff” Landry of New Iberia.
Vying for the Public Service Commission seat in District 3 are Democrat Lambert C. Boissiere III of New Orleans and fellow Democrat John F. Schwegmann of Metairie.