Most African-American voters in Louisiana support the re-election of Governor John Bel Edwards. However, that support needs to translate into votes from the poor and working people of the state.
Poor people and minorities who generally support Governor Edwards in principle did not show up during the October elections. There were enough of the working poor registered to vote to have avoided the run-off that the governor will face on November 16.
We only voted at 30 percent.
The Governor is a known quantity. He is sensitive to the concerns of working people while keeping the concerns of the state at heart. He expanded Medicaid Coverage to 400,000 people on his first day in office. He reformed many facets of the state’s criminal justice system resulting in tough but reasonable sentences for offenders.
He raised the salaries of teachers for the first time in 10 years and wants to raise them more. He has a working relationship with representatives and Senators who represent the state’s poor.
That’s what we know.
What should make us nervous is what we know about his opponent Eddie Rispone.
Mr. Rispone is a self-made millionaire who has decided he’d like to play governor for four years. He has no history of working with poor people. In fact, he seems to be just the opposite of Governor John Bel Edwards.
In 2014, Mrs. Rispone led a failed attempt to take the largely white and affluent St. George Community out of the City of Baton Rouge and incorporate it independently. This would facilitate a way to avoid public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish. That effort failed, but the momentum continued and was approved last month.
Promoting the creation of an independent, racially exclusive, township indicates an aversion to associating with minorities; we could be wrong, but that’s the way it appears.
When a group of citizens organized themselves in Baton Rouge to push for changes to help improve conditions of working people, Mr. Rispone opposed the idea. The organization is called “Together Baton Rouge.” – To counter the group Mr. Rispone used his influence to create an opposing group called “Baton Rouge Families First.”
Whatever the group composed of mostly the working poor advocated, Mr. Rispone’s group opposed.
As a candidate for Governor, Mr. Rispone has pledged that on his first day in office that he would sign an order rolling back the Medicaid Expansion of Governor Edwards. It will have the effect of snatching medical coverage away from nearly a half-million people…because he can.
He has announced that he is opposed to giving all teachers a pay raise as promised by Governor Edwards, instead, he promises a raise to those teachers who earn it through a system of merit.
What should worry working people most is that Mr. Rispone has campaigned on what he will be against and what he will cut or undo, but the only real thing he has proposed to do is to call a constitutional convention to rewrite the state’s constitution.
In the present constitution are guarantees for teachers, protections for minorities, certain criminal justice reforms, homestead exemptions and many other constitutional rights that will all be vulnerable to elimination in a constitutional convention.
Mr. Rispone has not shown any willingness to work with African-American leaders or leaders of the Democratic Party. While Governor Edwards works well with the Legislative Black Caucus and with many of the state’s Republican leaders.
When pressed for details the most Mr. Rispone will say is that he is for God and Donald Trump; and refers to both with the same amount of Reverence.
Working people, black or white, have a lot to lose if Mr. Rispone becomes governor.
The working poor cannot afford not to participate in the November 16 election.
We support the Governor in principle, but he needs a little more:
He needs us to vote, beginning Saturday, November 2nd with early Voting.