Oct 312015

by Bambi Polotzola

The next governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards

The next governor of Louisiana

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.

Donna Edwards And Chas

Bambi’s son Chas with Donna Edwards, the next First Lady of Louisiana

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.

 Posted by at 7:12 pm
Aug 032015
Ginger Vidrine, candidate for LA Senate District 27

Ginger Vidrine, candidate for LA Senate District 27

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.

 Posted by at 6:49 pm