2019 Louisiana Democratic Socialist Voting Guide

Runoff Edition

Jefferson Parish Council District 2

4-year term, limited to 2 consecutive terms in the same seat

Deano Bonano (R) narrowly missed winning outright in October with 46% of the vote. He has served in a number of different positions in Jefferson Parish, including as a top aide to the current Councilmember-At-Large and to former parish president Aaron Broussard (though Bonano is careful to point out he advised his former boss against sending JP pump operators out of the parish before Katrina, a decision many blame for massive flooding). Bonano is endorsed by Steve Scalise and most of his donations have come from coastal engineers and construction firms. Though his platform prioritizes business, he also hopes to prohibit short term rentals in residential neighborhoods and implement an air quality monitoring program.

Bonano’s proposals for environmental legislation are noticeably less aggressive than Michael O’Brien (R), who has a history of running for parish council, first in District 1 in 2012 and then in District 2 in 2016. He believes the parish needs “a businessman, not a politician” and is president of the Avondale Container Yard shipping facility. He has invested at least $100,000 of his own money into this race. Despite his stated focus on business, O’Brien has a history of advocating for environmental protections within Jefferson Parish around the Cornerstone Cyanide Plant and advocates for mandatory air monitors at the edges of toxic industrial facilities.

Jefferson Parish Council District 3

4-year term, limited to 2 consecutive terms in the same seat

This is an open seat being vacated by Mark Spears who is termed out. It is the only majority-black council district in Jefferson Parish and one of only two that crosses the river. District 3 houses the Jefferson Parish Landfill and the Cornerstone Cyanide Plant, both of which have generated significant community outrage over the past year for the odors and toxic chemicals that have been drifting across the river to the wealthier neighborhood of River Ridge.

Derrick Shepherd (D) is a former state senator who is hoping the public will forgive him for laundering almost $150,000 of public funds, for which he was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison. Shepherd’s presence as an apparent adviser to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s transition team stirred controversy last year. His campaign slogan this year is “Everybody deserves a second chance.” Shepherd has a wide array of community-specific issues he hopes to address if elected, largely related to blighted property, street conditions, speeding, and lack of funding for recreation. Shepherd once introduced legislation in the Louisiana House that would have criminalized saggy pants.

Byron Lee (D) who succeeded Donald Jones for this seat in 2003 is also seeking to rejoin the council. In the past, Lee has faced allegations that he misused public funds for personal benefit and allocated funding to organizations that benefitted his family members. Speaking of family members, his opponent Derrick Shepherd just so happens to be his third cousin and political protege. Lee voted to direct public money to some of Shepherd's campaign workers back in 2004. Lee has been out-fundraising his former pupil and cousin but only got 20% of the vote to Shepherd’s 25% in the October election.

State Representative District 105

Plaquemines and parts of Jefferson Parish

4-year term, limited to 3 terms

Chris Leopold (R) is the incumbent and received 46% of the vote in the primary. His biggest accomplishment this year was jumping on the bandwagon along with 73 cosponsors of Jerry Gisclair’s popular bill to require country of origin labels on seafood sold in Louisiana. Leopold’s critics say he hasn’t done enough to oppose a proposed Belle Chasse toll bridge and proposed sediment diversions. As noted in the New Orleans Harm Reduction Network voter guide, Leopold opposes pre-kindergarten in a district with 20% child poverty.

Mack Cormier (D) picked up 39% of the vote in the primary. He is the son of former Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier Jr. and brother of Amos Cormier III, also an ex-Plaquemines Parish president. Cormier opposes tolls to pay for the Belle Chasse Bridge, but told nola.com it might be too late to avoid them. He also said he opposes two freshwater diversions that opponents say will hurt local fishers. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s website says he’s picked up the endorsement of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.

State Representative District 89


4-year term, limited to 3 terms

Vince Liuzza (R) led in the primary with 26% and owns the Liuzza Realty Group in Mandeville. Liuzza vows on his website to never raise taxes while also freeing up state transportation funds and protecting the TOPS educational program. He says he wants to find a “balance” between the environment and business. There is no “balance” between the health of Louisiana’s people, waters, plants and animals, and the profits of business — one is crucial, and one unnecessary. Liuzza’s campaign website is vague on details and mostly highlights his entrepreneurial experience.

Richard Nelson (R) came in a close second in the primary with 25% of the vote. He is an executive at a Mandeville consulting firm and former State Department employee. He’s for funding a Coastal Master Plan to fight erosion. Nelson backs the disgusting Medicaid work requirements, “constitutional reform” to combat taxing “success,” and “school choice.” A vote for Nelson would almost certainly be a vote for the worst in regressive policies that punish the working class.