The state primary elections in October left Louisiana with several tough decisions to make. The biggest: selecting our state’s leader for the next four years.
Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards faces Baton Rouge businessman and Republican Eddie Rispone in a runoff this month, after Edwards wasn’t able to get more than 50% of the primary vote. The final tally had Edwards with 46.6%, or 626,000 votes, and Rispone with 27.4%, or 368,318.
Rispone—who has never held political office—snatched the No. 2 spot from veteran Republican congressman Ralph Abraham. Still, Abraham swiftly issued an endorsement for Rispone, hoping to help oust the Deep South’s lone Democratic governor.
Rispone has repeatedly touted his support for President Donald Trump while arguing Edwards hasn’t improved the state’s economic outlook. Meanwhile, Edwards argues Rispone would be a repeat of former Gov. Bobby Jindal, slashing budgets and leaving the state with a massive deficit.
Come Nov. 16, we’ll decide which one gets to lead the state into the future.
For the October issue, we asked Edwards, Rispone and Abraham to answer the same eight questions about issues facing the Baton Rouge area. We were only able to include four of them in the magazine. The rest can be found online, but we wanted to share Edwards and Rispone’s answers to one of those extra questions in light of this issue’s theme of looking to the future.
A recent survey showed around 80% of Louisiana residents are worried about the impact of climate change on their livelihoods. What’s one key initiative you would take to make sure Louisiana is better prepared for the acceleration of climate change and extreme weather events?
EDWARDS: If the frequency of severe weather increases as some are predicting, then Louisiana may see more than our fair share of those rain events. … That’s why we currently have more coastal restoration projects underway than at any time in our state’s history. And that’s why I worked with Congressman Garret Graves to secure funding for the overdue Comite River diversion project. It’s also why I worked with Graves and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to commit $40 million in state funding that will draw down more than $255 million for the East Baton Rouge Flood Risk Reduction Project, which will improve drainage across the parish.
RISPONE: Coastal restoration is not an option—it’s a necessity to protect human life, our economy and the Sportsman’s Paradise we hold dear. We must continue to support the Coastal Master Plan to restore, build and maintain coastal wetlands. It is the responsibility of the state and CPRA to monitor and adapt to the changes to the ever-evolving coast and address as necessary. The restoration projects create buffers that are essential for storm defense to protect human life and build habitats for wildlife that are vital to our economy, recreation and livelihood.
Editor’s note: Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.