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Voters head to the polls Saturday

Friday, March 19, 2021
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Lincoln Parish voters have a scant number of decisions to make when they head to the polls Saturday for the first election of 2021.

Only two items are on the parish-wide ballot: the special election for the 5th District congressional seat and a Lincoln Parish Sheriff ’s Office property tax millage renewal. Dubach voters will also elect a mayor.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Voters should bring a picture ID, such as a valid driver’s license. Masks are encouraged, and social distancing will be practiced at all polling locations.

The LPSO is asking voters to renew a longstanding property tax millage that generates approximately 41% of the department’s budget.

“We’re just asking for a flat renewal,” Sheriff Stephen Williams said.

Revenue from the 7.83-mill tax generates about $3.9 million annually. That money pays for most of the department’s operational expenses, as well as drug education, prevention and enforcement, and for personnel, training and equipment. The renewal would be for 10 years.

Twelve candidates are running for the congressional seat that opened in December when Congressmanelect Luke Letlow died of complications of COVID-19, five days before he was to have been sworn in.

The 5th District includes Lincoln Parish.

Letlow’s widow, Julia, a Republican, is among the contenders and is considered one of the frontrunners, along with Democrat Sandra “Candy” Christophe, of Alexandria. Christophe is the only Democrat in the race.

She failed to make last year’s runoff against Luke Letlow by fewer than 500 votes.

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Letlow. So has the Louisiana Sheriff ’s Association political action committee.

The Louisiana Democratic Party has endorsed Christophe.

Others in the race include two people who ran for the seat in the 2020 primary, one candidate who ran for the U.S. Senate in the 2020 primary, and one candidate who is in jail facing a murder charge.

Here’s the slate: Sandra “Candy” Christophe, D-Alexandria; Chad Conerly, R-Kentwood; Jim Davis, No Party, Monroe; Allen Guillory, R-Lawtell; Robert Lansden, R-Ponchatoula; Julia Letlow, R-Rayville; Jaycee Magnuson, R-Opelousas; Horace Melton III, R-Shreveport; M.V. “Vinny” Mendoza, Independent-Ponchatoula; Richard H. Pannell, R-Dry Prong; Sandra Smith, R-Opelousas; and Errol Victor Sr., R-Slidell.

Guillory also ran for the seat in the November 2020 primary. Mendoza ran for the U.S. Senate in the same election.

Victor is being held in a state correctional facility awaiting a trial on charges that he murdered his 8-year-old stepson in 2008.

Should the congressional race go into a runoff, that election will be April 24.

In the Dubach mayor’s race, incumbent Ruby Dawson faces challenger Mona Durrett Wilson. Both candidates are Democrats.

Dawson was appointed Dubach’s mayor in August of 2020 when the late Mayor Mary Claire Smith resigned.

Election officials said they don’t have a good feel for Saturday’s turnout. Some 2,579 people cast early ballots. Of those, 1,491 were in person and 1,088 were by mail, parish Registrar of Voters Sharon Parnell said.

“For a smaller election, it’s a pretty good turnout,” she said.

The early voting total was more than the early voting turnout for the Dec. 5, 2020 runoff, even though more contests were on the ballot.

This time, more early voters came in person, and fewer sent ballots by mail, Parnell said.

She said she thinks the congressional race this election is what drove up the early voting turnout.