We’ve had a fun and productive year. Enjoy this slide show of some of the cool things we did.
On February 19, 2013, just over a thousand days ago, Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, announced on the Jim Engster show that he would be running for governor of Louisiana in 2015. From day one, members of the Northshore Democratic Women’s Club have been front and center, engaging with him on issues, volunteering, and donating to his campaign.
In 2011, the Louisiana Democratic Party fielded no viable statewide candidates. When new state party chair Karen Carter Peterson declared in 2012 that we were taking back the governor’s mansion in 2015, it seemed like a pipe dream. John Bel Edwards entered the race early. He and his whole family worked relentlessly for over two and a half years. By Election Day, the whole country gazed at Louisiana in awe. Was this really happening? Peterson’s bold prediction had come true: we had a Democratic Governor.
Other great things happened during this election. Louisiana’s two competing teacher’s organizations, the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) combined resources to endorse and campaign for John Bel. JBE’s strong showing in the primary brought in resources from national groups like the Democratic Governors Association, which were deployed to help with voter turnout all over the state. Strong women Democrats – Dr. Eileen Velez in Shreveport, Dr. Brenda Babin in Terrebonne Parish, and Ginger Vidrine in Lake Charles – ran for the Louisiana State House and Senate against terrible and entrenched incumbents. They didn’t win, but they stepped up.
Let’s enjoy this victory for a few days, then get ready to do it again. Qualifying for the St. Tammany Democratic Parish Executive Committee and the Democratic State Central Committee is December 2-4. What’s the job of both of these groups? Elect Democrats! Check the Louisiana Secretary of State’s web site for information about running. Registered Democrats will vote for these representatives on March 5, 2016, the same day we vote for the Democratic nomination for President.
Turning Louisiana purple is a long-term job. We can’t stop now.
by Bambi Polotzola
On June 21, 2013 in the late afternoon, Bobby Jindal announced that he was vetoing funding for services for people with developmental disabilities and giving some of that funding to build a race track for one of his wealthy donors. People with disabilities and their families had spent months during the legislative session to secure funds that would help some of the over 10,000 people who are on a waiting list receive services so that they could live more independently. Bi-partisan support was achieved and legislators included funds in the budget. Imagine our devastation when we received word of the veto!
Hundreds of advocates and our allies worked day in and day out, night and day for 21 days to get the veto overridden. John Bel Edwards was a leader in the House of Representatives. He worked with us and was instrumental in getting the votes needed in the House. I’ll never forget his leadership, compassion, and friendship. The Saturday morning after the votes were in (we lost in the Senate), I was exhausted, still sleeping, when my phone rang. It was John Bel and he said how sorry he was for the loss, for the families affected, and he promised he would continue to work with us for people with disabilities.
He has not let us down. He is on the House Education Committee and has been instrumental in passing legislation that will now give my son Chas, who has autism, an opportunity to earn a real high school diploma. Prior to that, the efforts and abilities of students with disabilities were marginalized to the point that they had no pathway to a diploma. John Bel also stood up for teachers time and time again after years of them being demonized and not supported. He held the budget hostage late into the last night of the 2014 legislative session until he could secure the only pay increase that teachers received in Jindal’s administration.
John Bel Edwards did not do this alone. Many other legislators were instrumental and I’ll forever be grateful to them. But John Bel is a leader among leaders and those that know him and have worked with him know he’s a man of integrity and genuine concern for the people of Louisiana. With that, I commit that I will spend the next 21 days working as hard as I did during those 21 days in the summer of 2013 to ensure that we WIN this one and John Bel Edwards becomes our next governor.
Bambi Polotzola is chair of the St. Landry Parish Democratic Executive Committee and a member of the Democratic Women of Acadiana. A mother of two with a full-time job, Bambi is a tireless advocate for the disabled and a friend of club president Ann Porter. This essay is published with her permission.
Some club members were honored to be able to join Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at the home of Friend of the Club Gilda Reed prior to his speech in Kenner on July 26th. An intrepid participant shot some video. Here it is.
Southwest Louisiana’s 27th Senate district is in Calcasieu Parish, including much of the city of Lake Charles. The district had Democratic representation until the 2011 election, when Ronnie Johns, a Democrat-turned-Republican, ran unopposed for the seat. Johns has been an advocate for Bobby Jindal’s budget cuts; the higher education cuts had particularly devastating effects in the district.
The 27th Senate District is ripe for the retaking by a strong Democratic candidate.
- Democrats have a 24% registration advantage.
- Women comprise 55% of the electorate in the district
- African Americans 32% of the electorate.
Ginger Vidrine is that strong candidate. Ginger was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. Her father often worked two jobs for large and small timber companies. Her mother was a dental assistant. The whole family worked together to keep the large gardens and cows that helped provide for the family’s needs. Ginger is the first generation of her family to attend college. She graduated McNeese State and LSU Law. Today, she’s an attorney practicing family law in Lake Charles.
Ginger is running a modern, data-driven campaign, using polling, direct mail and media consultants who have won the toughest races in Louisiana.
Why does Ginger want to be a state senator?
“My parents taught me that if you work hard and are honest with people you can get far in life. Get an education and you can achieve anything; the American Dream is within reach for everyone in Louisiana. Today, I see the American Dream slipping further away from the average people in Louisiana. More and more, special interests and big corporations have more of a voice in Baton Rouge than the middle class. No matter how hard families try—multiple jobs, both parents working—it seems harder and harder to get ahead. While the cost of college increases for students and their families, tax breaks grow for big business.
“I will go to Baton Rouge and fight every day for hard working folks like my parents. I’ll stand up for people working two jobs to make ends meet, not big corporations and their lobbyists. A fair and even playing field is essential for Louisiana to grow and prosper, for generations now and in the future.”
For more information on Ginger and to contribute to her campaign, see her web site at www.gingervidrine.com.
While members of the Louisiana legislature are elected to represent the people in their own districts, their votes affect the entire state. Between now and the election we’ll be sharing stories about Democratic women running for the legislature around the state. These stories will primarily be about women running to replace Republicans. If elected, they will work for the issues we care about, like equal pay, an increase in the minimum wage, Medicaid expansion, reduction in mass incarceration and comprehensive sex education.
Let’s be frank: right now, campaigns run on money. The reason incumbents win is because they can raise money from the moneyed interests. The women we are writing about don’t have moneyed interests. They can count on help from labor, teachers and in some cases attorneys, but they don’t have big oil or big business in their pockets. With the stories, we’ll include links to their campaign web sites. Any contributions you can make would help.
Get an early start on BlueDat Fest at the St. Tammany Parish Democratic Executive Committee’s Breakfast Fundraiser featuring the dynamic Russel Honore of the Green Army. The event will be held at the Abita Quail Farm from 9-11 a.m. and proceeds will benefit the St. Tammany DPEC’s scholarship program for Leadership St. Tammany/Northshore. Ticket prices are $40 and can be purchased online at http://www.dems4change.org.
Join the Northshore Democratic Women’s Club as we enjoy wine, food, song and shopping. Over 70 purses, new and gently used, designer and casual, funky and fancy, will be offered in a silent auction. Proceeds benefit the Louisiana Environmental Action Network for anti-fracking actions in St. Tammany Parish. Every purse comes with a prize. Men and women, Republicans and Democrats are welcome.
Sunday, August 17th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Abita Springs Town Hall
22161 Level Street
Abita Springs, LA
Our own GILDA REED and her son Robby had a part in Louisiana’s losing suit to have a MoveOn.org Billboard removed.The billboard calls attention to Gov. Jindal’s decision not to expand Medicaid coverage. It’s not the wording on the sign that’s the legal issue, but the logo on the billboard.
Robby, who had to resign from law school to pay his hospital bills because he is uninsured, testified for the 242,000 Louisianians in the coverage gap.
According to NOLA.COM, Lt.Gov.Jay Dardenne said the national liberal organization improperly mimicked his office’s trade and tourism branding in its satirical billboard posted just outside of the state capital. But U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick disagreed Monday, siding with MoveOn.org in stating the group’s free speech rights trumped the state’s case.
The St. Tammany Parish Democrat Executive Committee is seeking applications to receive a partial scholarship to attend one of two upcoming area leadership training classes. The deadline to apply for scholarship assistance is Feb. 20.
Leadership St. Tammany is an independent organization affiliated with Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond that provides leadership skills and increases knowledge of St. Tammany Parish with numerous presentations by community leaders. Many of those serving in elective or non elective positions of parish leadership are graduates of previous Leadership St. Tammany sessions.
Leadership Northshore is sponsored by the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose is to assist in preparing emerging community leaders for positions in local government, business and community affairs.
Both organizations conduct classes covering a wide range of topics for emerging community leaders. “These are excellent programs to help future parish leaders to better understand how government works and how they can get involved to make a difference in their community,” said Keith Villere, chairman of the Democratic committee. “The Democratic Party in St. Tammany Parish is pleased to be able to assist future leaders to actively pursue leadership roles in our parish.”
Those interested in applying for the leadership scholarship should contact the Democratic Parish Executive Committee in care of Villere at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (985) 893-0408 in order to receive an application. Applications received after Feb. 20 will not be considered for the upcoming classes. The recipient will be announced at the March 10 meeting of the Democratic committee. Each applicant must be a registered voter and a resident of St. Tammany Parish.