Voters across Louisiana will begin picking a new governor when early voting commences Saturday, Oct. 10. Every election is important, but this one is pivotal. We have one chance — just one — to reverse the failed policies of Bobby Jindal. We cannot afford another culture-warrior governor who'd rather grandstand on social issues than solve the structural problems that hold our state back. We can do better. We must do better.
Louisiana desperately needs intelligent, honest, courageous leadership. We need a governor who will unite us, not divide us. We need someone who can and will reach across the aisle to forge consensus for policies that fully fund public universities, hospitals, mental health programs and other priorities. We need a leader who will focus on fiscal and budgetary reforms, restore our fragile coastline, reduce our horrific incarceration rate and improve access to early childhood education. This is no time for divisive ideologues; we've had that for eight years, and it has shown — with disastrous consequences — just how miserably government can fail. For these reasons and more, we believe Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne should be Louisiana's next governor.
The best predictor of someone's future performance is his past performance. In his nearly quarter-century of public service, Jay Dardenne has served admirably, ethically and intelligently at every level — as a state senator, as our secretary of state and most recently as our lieutenant governor. He knows every corner of Louisiana. He understands the needs of all her people. He works with everyone for the common good — and above all, he does the right thing for the right reason.
As a state senator, Jay Dardenne championed reforms that made our state stronger. As secretary of state he improved services to citizens and businesses, and as lieutenant governor he helped grow Louisiana's hospitality industry. Most important, throughout his career Jay Dardenne has worked successfully with Republicans, Democrats and independents to do what's truly best for Louisiana. He is a man guided by his inner moral compass, a man whose actions and decisions come from a clear-headed sense of purpose. As governor, he will bring those strengths to a state sorely in need of honest, intelligent leadership.
Unlike some of his opponents, Jay Dardenne is not hidebound by ideology. He has not flip-flopped on Common Core, and he has never signed the Grover Norquist pledge. Instead, he has put Louisiana's interests first. He is practical yet principled. He believes in fixing what's broken — such as Louisiana's loophole-riddled tax code — rather than tilting at windmills. He would abolish the inventory tax but still provide aid to local governments; he would cull statutory budget dedications rather than automatically raise taxes; and he would negotiate Louisiana-specific terms with the federal government that would allow us to provide health care for the working poor.
Voters will be bombarded with rhetoric, hyperbole and attacks in the coming weeks. We urge all Louisianans to reject the divisive political tactics of the culture warriors and ideologues. We hope voters instead will focus on what candidates have actually accomplished. By that measure and others, Jay Dardenne is the best person to lead our state for the next four years.
Lt. Governor: John Young
The office of lieutenant governor oversees the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Hospitality is Louisiana's second largest industry, and our state's unique culture is a huge attraction to millions of visitors every year. Louisiana has been well-served by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. The race to succeed him has attracted several good candidates, but we think Jefferson Parish President John Young is best suited to lead this office going forward. Young has been a strong advocate for area tourism, arts and culture. We feel he will work well with our next governor to promote Louisiana to the world.
Attorney General: Buddy Caldwell
The attorney general is the state's chief legal officer, and a job that important cannot be entrusted to someone who lacks real courtroom experience. Incumbent Buddy Caldwell has decades of experience as a prosecutor, and his office has recouped billions in damage awards for the state by pursuing environmental and pharmaceutical violators. Caldwell's chief opponent, former Congressman Jeff Landry, literally has never tried a criminal case before a jury. This one should be an easy choice for voters: Caldwell for attorney general.
Secretary of State: Tom Schedler
Incumbent Secretary of State Tom Schedler has done an outstanding job as Louisiana's chief elections officer, rising above the state's partisan political divide to render impartial service to voters and candidates. His office also is user-friendly for businesses and attorneys who constantly need to file and access important records. Despite deep cuts to his budget, Schedler continues to provide a high level of service and professionalism to the public. He deserves re-election.
State Treasurer: John Kennedy
The state treasurer manages the state's investments and sets the agenda for the Bond Commission, which is the borrowing arm of state government. Incumbent John Kennedy has done a superb job at both tasks. He also has been a staunch advocate for fiscal and budgetary reform — two items that directly affect the state's credit rating. He warned years ago that Louisiana was headed for a "fiscal waterboarding," but Gov. Bobby Jindal ignored those warnings. Now we're all paying the price. Louisiana needs a watchdog like John Kennedy in the treasurer's office, and we urge his re-election.
Commissioner: Jim Donelon
Jim Donelon came into office shortly after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when Louisiana's insurance landscape was in tatters. He instituted policies and practices that helped stabilize the insurance market and, over time, lowered rates and decreased Louisiana's dependence on Citizens, the state's insurer of last resort. He is the first Louisiana insurance commissioner to be elected president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an honor that underscores our endorsement of his re-election.
Commissioner: Mike Strain
In 2008, Mike Strain took over one of the most mismanaged, dysfunctional offices in state government. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry was bloated, corrupt and in disarray. Today, thanks to Strain's efforts and leadership, it's one of the best-run agencies in government. Strain has cut unnecessary programs and personnel, instituted key reforms and made the department an example of efficiency. We heartily endorse his re-election.
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)
District 1: Jim Garvey
Jim Garvey has been immersed in efforts to improve public education for more than a decade, and his commitment is evident in his service on BESE. He has been a leading voice for higher standards and expanding opportunities and options for public school families. We urge his re-election to BESE from District 1.
BESE District 2: Kira Orange Jones
Kira Orange Jones likewise has been a staunch advocate for reform and innovation as a member of the state's education board. She supports charter schools not because they are a "cure-all" but because she knows they offer many parents and students a viable alternative to failing schools. She deserves another term to continue the fight for education reform in Louisiana.