Fifteen candidates vie for Cedric Richmond’s old congressional seat

Election day is March 20
Congressman Cedric Richmond of New Orleans announces he will leave Congress to be a senior...
Congressman Cedric Richmond of New Orleans announces he will leave Congress to be a senior advisor and Director of Public Engagement in the Biden Administration.(Source: WVUE)
Updated: Mar. 17, 2021 at 7:40 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Voters in Louisiana’s Congressional District 2 will decide on Saturday who will replace former Congressman Cedric Richmond on Capitol Hill, or who the two candidates will be in a runoff.

When Richmond resigned his seat to become a senior adviser to President Joe Biden a slew of candidates officially qualified for the race to fill the vacancy.

According to the Census, District 2 includes over 700,000 people and the district stretches from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and is heavily African American.

Fifteen people are on the ballot, eight are Democrats, four are Republican, one is an Independent, one is a Libertarian, and one has no party affiliation.

FOX 8 reached out to the top four fundraisers according to the Federal Elections Commission’s campaign finance reports through February 28.

And state Senators Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson, and Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers, all Democrats, as well as Republican businessman Claston Bernard of Gonzales met that threshold according to the FEC filings.

Full list of candidates for the District 2 Louisiana Congressional race election on March 20,...
Full list of candidates for the District 2 Louisiana Congressional race election on March 20, 2021.(Source: WVUE)

Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson pointed to their political experience.

“It’s real simple, experience matters. Having served in the legislature, served on the city council, served in the Senate now, but also having a gap between my service on the city council and before I came back into politics six years ago, that perspective of understanding both sides, of seeing life in government and outside,” said Troy Carter.

“I’ve been serving, and I’ve been working really hard on behalf of people and fighting for increases to the minimum wage, providing for, affordable healthcare, improving our educational system and there’s a distinction in the leadership,” said Karen Carter Peterson.

Bernard says it is time for someone who is not a longtime politician to represent the district.

“I’m about results, I’m not about just talking politics. You know, I’ve been blessed coming to this country. And if you want to say it’s been an American dream coming here as an immigrant from Jamaica, this country, this state has given me a lot and I’ve been hearing the same stuff over and over, the same rhetoric, and nothing has moved,” said Bernard.

Chambers did not meet our deadline for an interview but videos on his website give insight into his candidacy.

“You can’t elect career politicians if you want change to happen,” said Chambers in a video announcing his campaign.

He is referred to as a social justice advocate on his campaign website.

“The future of jobs for our children requires that we look at the Green New Deal,” said Chambers.

Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson also support the Green New Deal. It is a plan backed by some Democrats which focuses on climate change and other environmental issues.

But healthcare and the pandemic are among their top priorities.

“I think the federal government should play a more active role, we know statistics that we see every day that this vaccine is not making it into every part of our community,” said Troy Carter.

“My top priorities would certainly be to continue to advocate for healthcare and we already have the Affordable Care Act of course, and 400,000 people, over 400,000 people have been able to get healthcare as a result of my efforts and certainly Governor John Bel Edwards once he became governor,” said Karen Carter Peterson.

The two democratic state senators said they would fight for a hike in the federal minimum wage if elected, after doing so in the state legislature for years.

“I’ve offered three times in my legislative history and just last week for the fourth time I’ve offered a bill to increase the minimum wage,” said Karen Carter Peterson.

“We need a baseline of $15 and we need to do it now,” said Troy Carter. “I’ve filed several bills in the legislature, every year to increase the minimum wage and equal pay for women, yet, we still battle with not having it.”

Bernard calls education his top priority.

“The education system here is deplorable, yes, even in New Orleans the charter schools are starting to do better but it’s not enough,” he said.

Bernard favors privatizing schools that fail to make the grade.

“You know, I’ve been radical about this, in more urban areas the public schools work better because there are more wealthy people there, but in the inner-city areas privatize everything, whether it’s school choice, voucher,” he said.

Biden’s energy policy has upset people in Louisiana’s oil and gas industry who say it will kill thousands of jobs.

“There’s the issue of the pause on the oil and gas leases and I think that that’s smart because it permits for an environmental statement and study to be done,” said Karen Carter Peterson.

“I support what Governor John Bel Edwards has said and that is we should do this moratorium and this study very quickly and then we should come up with realistic plans on how we curtail the negative impacts of oil and gas, but this is an oil and gas producing state,” said Troy Carter.

Bernard does not believe the Democrats’ policies are good for Americans. He said if elected he will only work with Democrats if it benefits the people of the 2nd congressional district.

“I’m a fighter and I’m fighting for what I know has worked and what has not worked, and the current administration’s programs are not designed to help the average American, much less black Americans,” said Bernard.

Karen Carter Peterson was asked if she thought her highly-publicized veto of some of Gov. Edwards appointees to boards and commissions hurt her campaign.

“It was certainly an effort to make sure our boards and commissions and certainly the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, that there was diversity and leadership. There’s never been an African American to serve at the helm of that authority and now as a result of what I did, this is not personal to any of the people involved and I made it really clear that diversity was important, so after what I did happened, the governor appointed for the first time an African American male to chair that board,” she said.

And Troy Carter was asked about complaints related to a home he owns in Algiers Point that had fallen into disrepair.

There was a fire at the structure.

“This property caught fire and we went to try and get permits to bring it in compliance and if I as a former member of the city council had that much difficulty getting a permit then what does that say to the average person out there?” said Troy Carter.

He said a permit was eventually issued by the city.

“We were told that the inspector had come out and they showed us papers; you could not have possibly have come out on this date because people were out here, we had a dumpster out, we’re cleaning up the refuge; the things that we were able to do without a permit because after a fire you’re able to remove the debris and remove those things that are at-risk but then we went through painstaking measures with Safety and Permits, with HDLC to get a permit and we finally got one and work is going on,” said Troy Carter.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office predicts an 18 percent voter turnout on election day.

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