La. legislators offer praise, criticism of the governor's first year in office

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After an eventful first year in office, legislators and political analysts praised Governor John Bel Edwards for his handling of the crises during the summer of 2016, while giving him mixed reviews for his leadership during the legislative sessions.

"It's often said that crisis reveals character, and if that's the case with Governor Edwards, then at least last year, he passed with flying colors," said political and media analyst Clay Young.

Legislators from both political parties commended Edwards for getting out in front of the Alton Sterling case and the police ambush in July.

"I'm going to give an A+ for that. [There's] nothing he could have done better, in that he engaged immediately," said Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge.

"The fact that he was able to calm everyone down during the police shootings, that speaks highly of the leadership skills he certainly exhibited," said Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego.

They also praised his immediate response to the historic floods of August, though at least one Baton Rouge lawmaker did have concerns about the governor's oversight of the long-term recovery efforts.

"The Shelter at Home program - it wasn't particularly received very well by the residents," said Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge.

When it came to Edwards' handling of the legislature itself and the sessions in the spring, reviews were mixed. Edwards called lawmakers to Baton Rouge twice for emergency sessions to fix the state's budget, which was billions of dollars in the red at the time. Some said he could have done more to improve the lines of communication between his office and lawmakers.

"He probably needs to do a little better in building some relationships in the House and giving that a little more effort," Alario said.

"Narrow it down and be clear in what you're trying to achieve. Don't just say I want to raise more revenue or cut expenses," Claitor said.

By the end of the two special sessions, the state was still hundreds of millions of dollars short. Marcelle defended Edwards, saying certain Republicans merely refused to work with him.

"Sometimes people are interested in you failing rather than moving the state forward," Marcelle said.

Edwards will hold a press conference reflecting on his first year Wednesday, January 11, the one-year anniversary of him taking office.

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