Candidates for governor pitch ideas to members of La.’s oil and gas industry

A few candidates running for the top job in Louisiana made their pitches to folks in the oil and gas industry.
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 10:45 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - We are just five months away from the primary election in the race for Louisiana governor.

A few candidates running for the top job in the state made their pitches to folks in the oil and gas industry. Many of them are unhappy with some of the energy policies coming out of the White House.

Grow Louisiana Coalition hosted a forum about energy. Candidates also answered questions about jobs, education, the economy, energy cost and independence during the panel.

Five candidates showed up, including Republicans State Senator Sharon Hewitt, State Representative Richard Nelson, Stephen Waguespack, along with Democrat Dr. Shawn Wilson and Independent Hunter Lundy.

The first topic centered around what steps the candidates would take to get rid of coastal lawsuits facing the industry.

“Let’s end the coastal lawsuits, tell the industry and those that had left our state, that our state’s open for business and we want you back,” said Sen. Sharon Hewitt.

“If we look at what our government has done and not done in the Jindal years, in which my opponent over here (Waguespack) was chief and staff for part of it, they did not enforce compliance,” said Lundy, an attorney from Lake Charles.

Candidates also answered questions about policies they would create or endorse to take advantage of emerging energy investments in the state.

“I’m not running for the next four years, I’m looking at 40 years down the road. How are we going to be successful, because I’m going to be here, my kids are going to be here, and I care about it. So, I really think that from an energy perspective, how is it going to be sustainable,” said State Rep. Nelson.

“We know 30 years from now, this industry will look tremendously different from now. What we put in our cars, and in our homes, will look tremendously different. But what we also know is, it’ll probably be a Boudreaux and a Thibodeaux that is servicing that, and piping that, and trucking that, because our guys know how to do it better than anyone else,” said Waguespack, the former head of Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

“You’ve got all of the conditions here to leverage the market, the most important thing we have is the tenacity of our people to lead and deliver in the spaces where we have not gone before,” said Dr. Wilson, the former DOTD Secretary.

Another topic was about adding more jobs for the next generation and prioritizing STEM education.

“Our high schools need to do a better job of opening up their doors and bringing in industry, bringing in the local two-year school, bringing in the local four-year school,” said Waguespack.

“My nickname around the state is ‘STEM Queen,’ because I have done so much work in the area of STEM since being elected.

“It’s going to take our ability to take something that’s very complicated and make it fun, make it exciting, throughout the educational career from K-12,” said Dr. Wilson.

“We give millions of dollars to the coach, but at the end of the day, we scrounge for those pennies for advanced research,” said Nelson.

With Treasurer John Schroder and Attorney General Jeff Landry absent, there were a few swipes at the presumed Republican front-runner in the race.

“We’ve got to get rid of corruption in Louisiana, and yes our top cop in Louisiana’s not here today. He will not be the governor, he hasn’t done a good job other than criticize,” said Lundy.

“We are driving them out of our state with the coastal lawsuits, and Lawsuit Landry isn’t helping anything by being part of that,” said Sen. Hewitt.

“And you did say earlier, that one of these people will be the next governor, I do appreciate you saying that, because that does make all of our odds better,” said Waguespack.

Candidates also discussed Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program and why they should be the next governor.

Some of the candidates running for governor of Louisiana appeared at a forum for a discussion about the state's energy industry.

“I’m an action-oriented person, and if you want the state to continue to be mediocre there are other people that you can vote for, but if you really want to change the direction of this state, then I need your help. And I’m asking for your vote because I want to give our kids and our grandkids a reason to stay in Louisiana and not a reason to leave,” said Sen. Hewitt.

“The truth means that I speak the truth. And the truth often offends people. So, I’ve always been that person. I’ve always been an advocate, I’ve represented some of the richest people in the world, and the poorest people in the world. So, I have the most world experience. and I’ve done everything, you just read my bio, you’ll understand I’ll be the best governor you’ve ever had,” said Lundy.

“I will change the tax code, one of the fundamental things that we inherited from Huey Long was this broken tax doe, that puts the state in charge of everything. I’ll let the local governments solve their own problems, I’ll get rid of the income tax, I’ll restructure it so that it can be competitive like our neighboring states so that people will stay here, people will come here. The second thing is education, I will focus every day on education,” said Rep. Nelson.

“I’m in this race for one simple reason. I am sick and tired of the brain drain. I am sick and tired of Louisiana watching other states around us grow and prosper, and us scratch our head wondering why things don’t change if we don’t make big chances. Guys, this has to be our wake-up moment. I’m sorry, but if you want someone to come in here and hold Louisiana’s hand quietly while it drifts off to sleep, I’m not your guy,” said Waguespack.

“I understand this process of government, I know how to work with people, I know how to listen more than I do talk, and at the end of the day, I will be committed to putting Louisiana first. I have done several things in life that I was not expected to do, and being governor was not what I had planned to run for. But I know what it takes, I’ve lived that life, and I’ve been beside several governors in that process. Particularly when we are at our most vulnerable, particularly in disasters. You need a leader who is going to be present, who is going to be there, who is going to be with you, and always, always, put all of Louisiana first,” said Dr. Wilson.

The qualifying period for candidates for governor is August 8 - 10. The primary is set for October 14.

To watch the full gubernatorial forum click here.

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