September 27, 2019
Endorsements for Oct. 12 Election
Voters Organized to Educate began the Know Your Vote campaign in response to many people who ask, “you live and work in this field, year after year, what’s y’all’s take on these candidates? I can’t figure out who is going to be good on criminal justice reform.” So with that said, let’s dive into it. Find your parish voting guide for Orleans here, and for Jefferson Parish here.
- Governor John Bel Edwards has been a big part of Louisiana’s historic turn away from our legacy of slavery, away from the global epicenter on mass incarceration, towards building a state that can begin addressing public safety with stable communities as the end goal. Although there is a long way to go, and the recent rise in massive detention of immigrants (on behalf of ICE), Gov. Edwards is the clear choice among a field that would unravel progress, if given a chance.
- Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry: Who knew that a huge barrier in getting medical marijuana in Louisiana was the Secretary of Agriculture’s resistance to introducing production of cannabis? The world has recognized this plant as a critical anti-depressant and anti-anxiety treatment (among many other well known uses), and Big Pharma has done their best to keep it out of American’s medicine cabinets. For this reason, we believe Marguerite “Margie” Green is the obvious choice, as a farmer who has a full grasp of the broader conservation issues of in Louisiana.
- Louisiana Supreme Court Justice (on the J.P. and North Shore ballots): The last stop for nearly every case in dispute is the state Supreme Court. This goes for wrongful convictions, non-unanimous juries, bail, fines and fees issues, and the ethics of prosecutors and judges. Of the four candidates running, we are hopeful that Judge Scott Schlegel can protect new laws as the legislature changes them, and hold prosecutors and judges accountable. As someone who recognizes the value of Reentry Court, perhaps he can be part of making all courts comparable to Reentry Court (which processes a miniscule percentage of cases).
- Senate District 3: It is tough to choose between Rep. Joe Bouie and Rep. John Bagneris, both of whom have been reliable Civil Rights champions at the Legislature. It would be nice to keep both of them in the mix, so we are going to choose both- and know that whoever doesn’t win this election will surely land on their feet and keep up the great community advocacy.
- Senate District 5: This is an easy choice, to support the ongoing leadership of Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who remains not just a solid voice on criminal justice reform, but also an influential committee chair.
- House District 83: This J.P. race features two Democrats, and we believe Kyle Green will make a strong addition to the Legislature. He is prioritizing criminal justice reform, and his time working within the system (as an Assistant A.G.) will illuminate the debate on a regular basis.
- House District 84: This Jefferson Parish seat will be won by a newcomer, and we feel like Rusty Autry will be the best of the bunch. He filled out our survey, and appears ready to add a voice for district residents who are struggling under a system designed for failure.
- House District 87: Another J,P. race, and another valuable incumbent. Rodney Lyons is a safe bet to send back to the Capitol.
- House District 91: One of several New Orleans races without an incumbent, this one includes four candidates who are all talking about criminal justice reform. Attorney Mandie Landry is knowledgeable, diligent, and appears ready to build coalitions required to move legislation. Meanwhile, current public defender Robert McKnight has gained valuable insights on just how slow, expensive, and inequitable our criminal legal system is. This one is likely to get to a run-off, so we probably will be down to two on Oct. 12th.
- House District 94: While this race may also come down to a run-off, incumbent Stephanie Hilferty has shown progress on criminal justice reform bills over her first term, including switching her Act 636 Voting Rights stance from “Nay” to “Yea” after hearing from many constituents who were denied the right to vote. Tammy Savoie, is challenging her with a platform that includes easing voter registration; it is unclear if she has hundreds of thousands of people with criminal convictions in mind, or not. Neither filled out our Know Your Vote survey. This may turn into a classic partisan line vote.
- House District 97: Another open seat with newcomers, and all indications are that Matthew Willard would be a solid addition to the Legislature. People can check out his thoughtful answers to our survey on KnowYourVote.org.
- House District 98: This open seat includes a few people who have been in and around community service and politics. Among the three strongest candidates, we support Ravi Sangisetty and Carlos Zervignon to be leaders on criminal justice reform. Both of them are able to intelligently discuss the massive flaws in the system, and have a solid awareness of what needs to change for the betterment of Louisiana. With this race likely to come down to a run-off, we hope to see one or both of them moving past the Oct. 12th primary. Read their survey answers on Know Your Vote.
- House District 99: None of the three candidates running for this seat appear to be ready to immediately step into the criminal justice reform conversation, so Know Your Vote is sitting this one out for now- but stay tuned for a run-off.
Vote YES on Ballot Amendment 4, and let New Orleans decide for itself how to build affordable housing.
We encourage everyone to keep their ears open, and check the receipts behind the speeches. Next spring, many freshmen legislatures across the state will define our future, one way or another, for what is likely to be the next decade. Let none of us be too proud to admit if we made a mistake.
Early voting starts Sept. 28 and goes until Oct. 5, with the exception of Sunday, Sept. 29. If you can’t vote early, make sure you vote in the primary election on Oct. 12. Check back after the primary for a re-boot before the run-off in November.