Candidates Tell Plans at Chamber EBR

Candidates Tell Plans at Chamber EBR

Robert Cipriano, who is running against incumbent Rep. Steve Carter in House District 68, said upsetting a powerful incumbent would send a message that voters want fundamental changes as the State Capitol.

Cipriano was one of five candidates for local or state office who brought their messages to the business owners at a candidates’ forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of East Baton Rouge.

The Chamber EBR is a group of conservative small business owners who are affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  They meet for lunch on the 4th Thursday of each month at Café Américain, 7521 Jefferson Hwy.

Other candidates participating in the forum were Sen. Dan Claitor of Senate District 16, Sen. Bodi White of Senate District 6, Edmond Jordan who is running for a vacant seat in House District 29, and school board member Tarvald Smith, who is running for a vacant citywide seat as City Judge.

Claitor’s opponent Scott McKnight and Rep. Steve Carter were invited to attend but had other obligations.

Claitor said he learned the importance of hard work as a teenager sweeping the parking lot in his family’s business.  As a young prosecutor in New Orleans, he learned that evil is real and often comes in a pretty package.  Claitor, who described himself as pro-life said he is known in the Senate as a “wolfpack of one” because he is willing to take on powerful interests, even if it means standing alone.

Claitor said a powerful lobbyist told him, “I hate to lobby you, but I’m damn glad you’re my senator!”  The two-term senator said he just wants to bring common sense to the state capitol.  He said one of his most important issues is transparency in government.  “What do Iran, Benghazi, and the IRS scandal have to do with the Governor’s office, the Board of Regents, and state retirement?  One thing: Transparency. They are all big issues because people aren’t given the truth.”

Sen. Bodi White said his district includes the wealthiest parish — East Baton Rouge — and the poorest parish — St. Helena, and they have very different needs.  He said he and Sen. Claitor are often the last two senators to leave the chamber at night.  “Just to confirm what Dan said, I once told him, ‘Dan, you are the hard headedest person I know!’”

“This was probably my toughest session because of the state’s money problems.  We made some reforms on the film tax credit and more is needed.  The current budget is based on $65 oil and it is currently at $45.  So there will be another budget crunch coming as soon as December.”

Cipriano drew laughter when he said, “I’ve talked to thousands of families and they all want to know one thing: ‘How old are you?’”  The boyish-looking candidate admitted to being 29.  He said, “The number ‘one’ is the key.  We need to defeat ‘one’ powerful incumbent and start the process of change, instead of just kicking the can down the road again.  ‘One’ upset will change the direction of the legislature.”  Carter is currently running for Speaker of the House.

Edmond Jordan said he is passionate about education, health, and economic development.  He is on the board of Essential Federal Credit Union, formerly Dow Federal Credit Union.  He is an attorney, specializing in police brutality cases.  He formerly worked at LWCC and later at the PSC.

School board member Tarvald Smith, who is running in the newly created at-large seat for City Judge,  said he will insure the law is applied fairly.  He said his experience as an Assistant District Attorney under Doug Moreau will serve him well.  In private practice, he mainly represents plaintiffs and he serves as public defender in Baker.

Regarding the excessive travel costs reported for some City Court judges as they attend conventions and continuing education at exotic foreign destinations, Smith said he would not be a traveling judge.  “There needs to be rules, and we don’t need to travel to the Bahamas, Hawaii, or California”

During questions, Sen. White, who authored the Central school system, said he would like to see more independent school districts created in East Baton Rouge Parish — perhaps four or five new districts.

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