opinion

Bart Everson: How I’m voting this Saturday

Every election cycle offers a checkup on the state of our democracy. In the statewide election scheduled for this Saturday, we have 53 races that won’t even appear on the ballot. That’s because they are uncontested. They aren’t even races at all. That’s 53 people automatically elected to office without opposition.

I guess that’s all well and good, hunky-dory, fine and dandy, if you’re happy with the status quo in Louisiana. I’m not. Do you think our state is headed in the right direction? I don’t. In the twenty years I’ve lived here, I’ve never thought the state was headed in the right direction. For my entire life, I’ve never thought our country was headed in the right direction.

A values voter

If that makes me sound like some kind of radical malcontent, I’m sorry. I don’t want to be. It’s just that I have these things called values. I cherish ideals like grassroots democracy, social justice and equal opportunity, ecological wisdom, nonviolence, decentralization, community-based economics, feminism and gender equality, respect for diversity, personal and global responsibility, future focus and sustainability. I don’t see our nation or our state strongly supporting those values.

I vote in every election, and those values inform my vote. But it’s hard to say the electoral process even allows for expression of those values when our choices at the ballot are so limited. (That’s why I’ve been organizing for the Green Party. Join us for our next meeting.) Nevertheless, I see voting as my civic my duty, the very least I can do.

Photo by Bart Everson

Here’s the philosophy that undergirds my voting. I have two screens that I apply right off the top: I’m anti-incumbent and pro-independent. Let me explain. Given my overall dissatisfaction, I’m generally against any incumbent, unless I’m aware of that person as an exceptional champion of the values I hold dear, or if the opposition appears to be demonstrably worse. And since I don’t feel the two dominant parties have succeeded in representing me, I’m always willing to give independent or third-party candidates a look.

After applying these filters, it comes down to doing some research and seeing if there are any candidates who support the values mentioned above. There are a few glimmers.

Yeah, yeah, what’s on the ballot?

So here’s how I’m voting on Saturday. Please note: I’ll vote in every race on my ballot; what follows are the races where I’m actually kind of enthusiastic.

  • Treasurer: Teresa Kenny — After all that, there’s really only one candidate standing. Teresa Kenny has no party affiliation and appears to be a candidate who will represent the people of Louisiana rather than big corporate interests. She has my enthusiastic endorsement.
  • Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry: Marguerite Green — Her name is Green, and her positions are similar to those staked out by Green Party candidate Adrian “Ace” Juttner four years ago. She is campaigning in support of small and mid-sized farmers. She’s calling for urgent action on the climate crisis. Her cannabis policy ain’t bad either.
  • BESE District 1: Marion “Coach” Bonura — Technically I can’t vote for him because I’m a couple blocks inside the second district. Ain’t it funny how Mid-City is sliced up? I suspect Coach is a Republican who wanted to avoid paying the higher qualification fee to run with the big dogs. I suspect he meant to run as a true independent and wasn’t aware of the so-called Independent Party of Louisiana, which has opportunistically capitalized on the number of voters who marked their registrations as independent — but that’s another story. Coach has decades of experience as an educator, he has the union endorsements, and he’s against vouchers.
  • BESE District 2: Shawon Bernard — I like Shawon Bernard because she has many years of experience as an educator, and she has a history of working with community groups.
  • State Representative 91st District: Pepper Bowen Roussel —  Technically I can’t vote for her because I’m a couple blocks inside the second district. Ain’t it funny how Mid-City is sliced up? Pepper is an impressive, astute, righteous candidate.
  • State Representative 94th District: Tammy Savoie — I went to the candidate forum at Mid-City Library (sponsored by MCNO) and I was favorably impressed. Her policies are easily better than the incumbent’s. She takes the climate crisis seriously and supports independent redistricting (anti-gerrmandering). Now I know why so many neighbors have her signs in their yards. I wish I knew more about the independent in this race, but she seems to be running a stealth campaign.
  • State Representative 98th District: Marion Penny Freistadt — Technically this district is Uptown, but I’d vote for Penny twice if I could. She’s made the climate crisis the central issue of her campaign, which is appropriate, as it would seem to be the central issue of our time. She is a tireless community organizer who rides her bike to meetings all over town. She has my highest personal endorsement.

What about those constitutional amendments?

Thought you’d never ask. I’ll skip the obligatory grousing about how need a new state constitution and cut to the chase.

  1. NO — The lucrative oil industry doesn’t need a tax break for offshore drilling.
  2. YES — Sure, let a few more schools tap into the Education Excellence Fund.
  3. NO — An extra-judicial body should not rule on constitutional law.
  4. YES — New Orleans does need tax breaks designed to encourage affordable housing.

That’s it. If you found this helpful, please pass it on, and don’t forget to vote Saturday. Remember, you can view a sample ballot and get other election information online at GeauxVote.com. See you at the polls.

Bart Everson is a writer, a photographer, a baker of bread, a husband, a father and a resident of Mid-City. He is a past president of Friends of Lafitte Greenway, a co-organizer for New Orleans Lamplight Circle, and currently serves as chair for the Green Party of New Orleans. More at BartEverson.com.

One Reply to “Bart Everson: How I’m voting this Saturday

  1. Not sure if you are aware but the Lab schools are not public schools. The LSU lab school charges $4900 annually in tuition. They already get a bit of money from the state. I think your recommendation on that amendment may be a bit reckless. Another rule of thumb you might want to add is that whenever a few specific parties are identified to benefit from something, it’s generally not a great thing for everyone to support.

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