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Parish picks Hawkins as marshal, backs Letlow for Rep, rejects library tax

Nancy Bergeron and Caleb Daniel
Saturday, December 5, 2020
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Lincoln Parish voters have elected Curtis Hawkins as the city’s new marshal. They also joined the rest of the 5th Congressional District in choosing Luke Letlow for U.S. Representative and rejected an ad valorem tax renewal for the Lincoln Parish Library.

City marshal

Complete but unofficial returns from Saturday’s runoff election show Hawkins with 64% of the votes cast, or 3,943 votes, compared to Democrat challenger Anthony Pollard Sr.’s 36%, or 2,201.

Hawkins, a Republican, and Pollard, a Democrat, were vying for the seat that will open Dec. 31 the retirement of current Marshal Jim Liner. Hawkins is a former city police lieutenant; Pollard is a current deputy marshal.

Though the job title is city marshal, the office has parishwide jurisdiction and is elected by a parishwide vote.

 The marshal is the chief executive officer of the city court. The office’s primary duty is collecting fines and costs imposed by the court, providing courtroom security, serving warrants, as well as eviction notices and garnishments.

Hawkins, a Republican, led the four-man primary in November with the 40% of the vote to Democrat Pollard’s 31%. The two losing candidates, both also current deputy marshal’s subsequently endorsed Pollard.

But the endorsements appeared not to translate into voters at the polls.

Hawkins took the lead in runoff Saturday — including the early votes cast — and never lost it. Approximately 17% of parish voters voted in the runoff.

Congressional race

In the open 5th District Congressional race, Lincoln Parish voters went with the rest of the district and picked Luke Letlow over challenger state Rep. Lance Harris.

Both men are Republicans. Letlow, from Start, is retiring Congressman Ralph Abraham’s chief of staff. Harris, from Alexandria, is former chairman of the House Republican Delegation.

Complete but unofficial results in the congressional race districtwide show Letlow with 62% of the vote districtwide, or 49,182 of the votes cast, to Harris’ 38%, or 30,124 votes.

In Lincoln Parish, Letlow won 64% of the vote, or 3,764 votes, to Harris’ 36%, or 2,107 votes.

At the end of the primary balloting in November. Letlow led the nine-person field districtwide with 33% of the vote to Harris’ 17%. Letlow also carried Lincoln Parish with 33% of the local vote then to Harris’ 11%.

The 5th District includes all or parts of 24 parishes and is Louisiana’s most sprawling geographic congressional district.

Library tax

The item on the parish ballot with the narrowest split in results was the proposed 10-year property tax renewal for the Lincoln Parish Library, which failed with 57% of the vote in opposition and 43% in favor.

With a turnout of 16.7% of the total electorate, 3,459 voters sided against the tax renewal, and 2,579 supported it, leaving the proposition defeated by 880 votes.

The renewal would have set a maximum millage rate of 5.85 mills for the next 10 years starting in 2021, with the parish police jury, which owns the library, having the option to roll it down at any point during that time.

The tax was projected to bring in about $2.7 million for the library yearly, constituting the vast majority of its revenue. This year’s tax, before the renewal would have taken effect, will still be levied at the 4.15-mill rate set by the police jury.

After that, the library tax will be off the books starting next year, unless voters pass a subsequent proposal that the police jury could place on a future ballot. 

In the meantime, the library will likely soon have to start spending its fund balance to maintain operations. It has a little less than $3 million in reserve.

Informational materials the library used to market the tax vote claimed the library could potentially face closure if the renewal were to fail.

Constitutional amendment

Voters in Lincoln Parish and around the state overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the state constitution that would have allowed the governor to appoint someone who lives outside of Louisiana to any of the state’s public university management boards.

Here in the parish, the amendment lost with only 22% of the vote in favor and 78% in opposition. It didn’t fare much better statewide, garnering only 24% of the total vote.

GOP Sate Central Committee

In the races to fill two seats on the Republican State Central Committee, Shannon Frank Reeves, Sr., of Grambling won the 29th Senatorial District Division A seat with the 59% percent of the vote, or 318 votes, to challenger Frank Holton Robinson’s 41%, or 299 votes.

Voter turnout was a scant 3%.

In the 35th Senatorial District Division A race, Ruston resident Rosy Bromel won over challenger Jill Hines, with 63% of the vote, or 859 votes, or Hines’ 37%, or 497 votes. 

Voter turnout in the race was 13%.