Livingston candidates make appeals to voters

LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - There's a lot of resumes being passed around Livingston Parish in advance of October's elections.  The campaign trail is filled with leaders touting what they've done and challengers promising what they will do.

While lunch was on the table, folks feasted on politics at Wednesday's Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Candidates for tax assessor, sheriff and parish president offered the crowd some meaty morsels and hopefully securing a vote.

"Honesty, integrity and accountability is issues that are a must.  Accessibility I'm told, that's an issue," said Donald Burgess.

Burgess, a former Parish Planning Director, is running against Layton Ricks, operations manager for Alvin Fairburn and Associates, and current Parish President Mike Grimmer.

There were questions about working with the council and what else can be done about the traffic problems besides the already-expanding I-12.

"We stood up against the loop, still have a traffic problem," said Grimmer.  "Tying Ascension to Livingston is essential."

What Livingston needs, the candidates say, is to attract more business and employ more people.

"We have a lot of kids graduating college," said Layton Ricks.  "Like to see them stay here and work."

The other highly contested race in Livingston is for the sheriff's seat.

For 35 years, Livingston's Sheriff has been a man named Graves.  Odom Graves took office in 1976 and then his son took over in 1996.  Willie Graves decided not to run for re-election in January and now four men are vying for the position.

Three of them have had or are currently in law enforcement.

Jason Ard is the chief criminal deputy with the sheriff's office.  "Cookie" Billingsly is a retired Baton Rouge Police lieutenant.  Mickey McMorris is a former lieutenant colonel with state police and "Pete" Aranyosi is a retired farmer and postal worker.

"Narcotics," said Billingsly.  That's what's destroying this parish."

There were questions about what problems are plaguing the parish.

"The biggest crime we face is prescription medication," said Ard.

Others focused on a need for more police presence.

"You have to have patrols in neighborhoods - bad guys see more patrols, they are persuaded to go someplace else," said McMorris.

Candidate Pete Aranyosi went in a different direction.  He said he wants current Sheriff Willie Graves and District Attorney Scott Perilloux arrested for what he says is "corruption."

"Elected officials are our representatives, not our masters," said Aranyosi.

Much of the talk focused on a need for more deputies and removing drugs.

Voters will head to the polls on October 22nd.

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