The Shreveport mayoral and council campaigns often appear to be more of beauty contests than fact driven contests. And in the forums, candidates often sound like parrots as they all answer the same questions.
With incumbents, the obvious factors are job performance while in office. For the mayor this involves the leadership of the city. With council incumbents attendance at work sessions and council meetings, votes on key issues, and responsiveness to constituent matters are issues for voters.
In the current campaigns voters can look at the personal lives of the candidates, especially those that are not incumbents running to be re-elected.
One consideration is home ownership—does the candidate have “skin in the game” in the sense of paying Shreveport ad valorem taxes?
Jim Taliaferro has been in Shreveport for over 20 years. He does not own a home. He claims his mother’s residence as his voter domicile.
Steven Jackson has lived in Shreveport for 7 years. He does not own his residence.
Adrian Perkins has just returned to Shreveport after West Point, 3 combat tours and Harvard Law School. He does not own a Shreveport residence.
Council B candidates Levette Fuller and James Carstensen do not own a residence in the city.
As far as “run ins with the law”, Steven Jackson’s problems with having a current Motor Vehicle Inspection sticker and required car insurance have been well documented.
Carstensen’s police record includes guilty pleas for careless operation of a motor vehicle, driving with a suspended license, unlawful discharge of a firearm, 3 separate incidents of speeding, operating a motor vehicle with expired license plates, a seatbelt violation and driving an improperly registered vehicle. He was also found guilty of disturbing the peace and keeping a disorderly place.
Lee O. Savage has filed a bankruptcy.
Patrick Kirton, a candidate for District C, previously had financial problems. Tax liens were filed against him by the state of Louisiana and the IRS. He also had 2 money judgments recorded against him in Caddo Parish records. (All the liens and judgments have been paid.)
The rap sheet of Keith Hanson, a District D candidate, shows guilty pleas to 2 speeding tickets, 3 expired license plate tags, and 2 expired inspection stickers.
Joey Hester, another District D candidate, is a part time police officer for the town of
Blanchard. If elected, he will have many potential conflicts of interest in votes concerning the Shreveport Police Department.
No doubt other candidates have major life experiences that voters would consider seriously in determining their vote.
Individuals who qualify for public office must accept the reality that they have chosen to put their private life out into the public. And those that have been elected to office should realize that their personal actions are held to a higher standard.
A primary consideration, which probably is most difficult to evaluate for non-incumbent candidates, is temperament for the position they seek. Elected officials must be responsive to their constituents and be effective in resolving their issues. They must also properly evaluate matters that are voted upon and be able to work with their elected peers to effectuate their goals. And they must be able to stand the “heat in the kitchen” in the sense that many of their votes will not please all those they represent.
Many candidates have already been defensive in forums and thin skinned when questioned about their positions, actions and/or backgrounds. Others have appeared as programmed robots, sticking to a rehearsed set of answers failing to be really responsive to inquiries.
Voters who have attended and/or will attend future forums would be well advised to focus on candidate attitudes, body language and presence as much as campaign promises from candidates in determining their votes.
Other issues that voters can look to include employment, military service, business experience and education.
Leaving behind beauty pageant factors, candidate selection should entail serious review of all these factors, and more.
(This article was published in The Inquisitor on Thursday, September 20, 2018)