John Bel Edwards announces for Governor in '15

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent


John Bel Edwards of Amite chose October 24, exactly two years to the day of the election for Governor of Louisiana in 2015, to officially kick-off his campaign for Governor. The fundraising event was held at the Middendorf's Seafood Restaurant at Manchac off I-55 near the shores of Lake Ponchartrain.

"Before the election for Governor in 2015, many of those who are running for Governor will tell you at that time that what Governor Jindal did in decimating the budget of higher education and our state health care system was wrong," Edwards told an audience of over 400 people at Middendorf attending his political event.

"But I'm here to tell you what John Bel Edwards has been telling everyone that will listen for the last three years, that what Jindal has done to our health care system in Louisiana and to our institutions of higher learning is absolutely wrong. Both our educational system and health care systems in Louisiana have been wrecked."

A Ouachita Citizen political poll last April 17-23 by the Penn Schoen Berland group in Washington D.C. found that John Bel Edwards was polling around 17% of the potential votes for a 2015 Louisiana Governor's race. US Senator Vitter according to the poll was at 18% while Jay Dardenne was at 14%.

"We need a Governor in Louisiana who will put the people of Louisiana first, the families, the small business people and workers. I do not agree with Governor Jindal's belief that anyone who is not a member of the Republican Party hates rich people, has loose morals, and are deadbeats. I think that all people in Louisiana have the noble aspect of hope for the future for their children and their community with the faith to reach out and help people who are in need."

Edwards is a 1984 graduate (Valedictorian) of Amite High School. After high school, Edwards gained an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point. In 1988, while at West Point, he was on the Dean's list and elected Vice Chairman of Honors Commission by his fellow cadets.

After graduating from West Point with a degree in engineering, Edwards spent eight years of active duty with the Airborne Rangers before returning to Amite to raise his family. Edwards and Donna have two daughters, Sara and Samantha, and a son, John Miller. Donna Hutto Edwards is a school teacher.

"It is going to be a long and tough sledding for us to dig our way out of the devastation that Governor Jindal has brought onto our institutions of higher education in Louisiana. The budgets have been cut so dramatically, even in nearby Southeastern Louisiana, that it has negatively affected the ability to provide the students the quality of education to which they are entitled. Unfortunately, this is true at all the public universities across the state."

"During our legislative sessions in the past three years, I have pushed for us to just use a common sense approach to our budget problems,'' Edwards related. "Privatizing health care is not a long term feasible answer to health care problems. We will have to fix all the devastating problems that have come out of this program to privatize health care in Louisiana."

John Bel Edwards comes from a long line of family members elected to office in Tangipahoa Parish. Edwards' bother Daniel, is currently sheriff of the parish. His father, Frank M. Edwards, Jr. was Sheriff of Tangipahoa for many years as was Frank Edwards, Sr.

"Actually there are four generations of Edwards that have been Sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish," Frank Edwards, Jr. related to the Journal. "My grandfather was Sheriff for about a year around 1900. He didn't like being the Sheriff as there was a lot of feuding and fighting going on in the Parish at the time. My dad served several terms as Sheriff of the parish."

John Bel Edwards currently represents Legislative District 72 which covers parts of three parishes. He was first elected in 2007 and reelected overwhelmingly in 2011. Edwards chairs the Veterans Affairs Committee of the Louisiana House of Representative.

"It is going to be a long battle until Election Day on October 24, 2015," Edwards told those attending the $250 per couple Middendorf's event. "We are organized and spreading our message of a common sense approach with compassionate solutions to our problems.

Edwards has printed upwards of 25,000 DVD's explain his position of various issues confronting the people of Louisiana. In the DVD, Edwards emphasis his commitment to his family and stresses his Christian faith.

"I have a record for standing up for the average people in Louisiana and advocating a common sense approach to our problems. I didn't just start my record of opposition to what has happened in Baton Rouge in the last few years, that of cutting and scrubbing the budget when I announced my plans to run for Governor. I have stood up and opposed what the governor has done while it was happening to the citizens of Louisiana."

"Louisiana is a great place to live and raise your family," Edwards pointed out. "We have so many God given natural resources such as the Mississippi River and our wonderful coast line. Our people are our greatest resources. In addition to our oil and gas resources, have a large number of chemical and petroleum plants in south Louisiana. With these resources, it is certainly hard to understand how we can have the many budget problems we have had over the past several years. One thing I know for sure is that we have to remove partisan ideological politics from our state government."