5th Congressional District, Port Allen recall on ballot

Polls open at 7 a.m. Saturday in communities and parishes around the state to decide a smattering of issues and races.

Voters in 24 parishes will pick a new congressman. Port Allen voters will be deciding whether to remove their mayor. West Feliciana Parish will choose its first parish president.

Registered voters, in most cases, will be required to present identification with a picture, such as a driver’s license, before being allowed to cast a ballot. The polls close at 8 p.m.

“Statewide and for the 5th Congressional race, we anticipate turnout to be between 15 to 18 percent,” Secretary of State Tom Schedler said. “Of course, there are some local municipal races, like the recall election in West Baton Rouge, that will garner much higher, and even record, turnout. But overall this election has not created a lot of buzz across the state.”

Port Allen voters will head to the polls to decide whether controversial Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter should be removed from office.

Slaughter, a first-term mayor, is the first elected official in West Baton Rouge Parish to face a recall election, Registrar Stacy Ryan said.

Approximately 42 percent of the city’s qualified voters have already cast their ballots during early voting, according to the West Baton Rouge Parish Registrar’s Office.

A group of residents behind the recall effort to oust Slaughter filed a petition containing approximately 1,400 signatures saying they wanted the mayor removed from office because she has racially divided the community and embarrassed the city through several controversial decisions that have included hiring her brother-in-law, Ralph Slaughter, as nonpaid chief of staff, and attempting to fire the city’s chief financial officer without City Council approval.

In West Feliciana Parish, voters will decide whether Kevin Couhig or Tom McVea, both Republicans, will be the parish’s first parish president. The position was created when voters approved a home-rule charter form of government last November.

Couhig is a businessman who ran state economic development in the 1980s. McVea is former West Feliciana Parish police juror and state representative.

The East Baton Rouge Parish ballot has a few items: a justice of the peace race, two crime prevention district tax propositions and a Central tax extension proposition authorizing the community school system to borrow money for school improvements.

Registrar Elaine Lamb said she expects only 5 percent of registered voters eligible to vote on those items to show up to the polls.

About 607 early votes, both in person and through the mail, have been cast, she said.

In Ward 3, District 3, two Republicans, Jerry Arbour and Larry Spencer, are running for justice of the peace.

Residents in the Park Forest and Sherwood Forest subdivisions will decide whether to fund crime prevention and improvement districts in their respective neighborhoods.

In both subdivisions, the fee would be $75 annually per improved land parcel and would run for 10 years, for increased patrols and beautification, with an option in Sherwood Forest to increase by an additional $100 per parcel per year after five years.

In Central, residents will vote on whether to authorize the school district to borrow $13.1 million in 20-year bonds to be repaid by property taxes. The funds would be used to build a ninth-grade academy at Central High and for other improvements.

Two Republicans — state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, and businessman Vance McAllister, a first-time candidate from Monroe — are facing off in the runoff for the 24-parish 5th Congressional District that stretches from northeast Louisiana to the central part of the state and across much of the Florida parishes.

The two candidates’ biggest divide is on the Affordable Care Act. They both oppose it and want to repeal it.

But McAllister contends it is virtually impossible to repeal while the Democrats control the Senate and the White House. He says the focus should be on kicking out the bad and keeping the good.

McAllister said he is the candidate of “integrity” after Riser spent the last couple weeks going on the attack with commercials and mailers, trying to paint the “Duck Dynasty”-backed McAllister as a flip-flopping liberal.

“We’re so similar in our conservative Christian values, but we’re very different in our representation,” McAllister said, claiming Riser used “dirty lies” to defame him. “I’m going to hold my head high and be proud I ran a 100 percent positive campaign.”

But Riser contends he never went negative. “It’s not negative. It’s my opponent’s own words,” Riser said.

Mark Ballard of the Capitol news bureau contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the fee per lot that would apply to residents in the Sherwood Forest Crime Prevention and Neighborhood Improvement District should voters approve an item on Saturday’s ballot. The measure includes the option of increasing the $75 fee by an additional $100 after 2018.