The State Representative seat for District 16 has been vacated; we will need our best thinkers to step up to fill that seat.
Representative Katrina Jackson has announced that she will not seek re-election to the District 16 seat, but will instead be a candidate for the District 34 Senate seat.
As a senator, Rep. Jackson hopes to have more influence on policies, laws and funding plans that affect the poor and people of Northeast Louisiana.
That leaves the District 16 seat empty. Representative Jackson has been the only person to fill that position since she helped create it years ago. She carved up District 17, that was formerly held by former Rep. Charles Jones and Willie Hunter, Jr. and created a new, predominately black district which uses the Booker T. community and then runs North, along Highway 165 and brings in Bastrop.
The new district was called District 16.
District 17 used the remainder of the Southside but added a portion of West Monroe in the loop.
The net effect gave African-Americans one additional representative in this area, and similar actions were taken across the state.
The two districts have sent some of our brightest young minds to Baton Rouge to make laws on our behalf. Among those were Rep. Rosalind Jones and Rep. (now Judge) Marcus Hunter and Pat Moore.
With District 16 vacant, we need our best thinkers to come forward and take the baton from Rep. Jackson.
Our representatives have set the bar high. Except for Moore, all of them have been attorneys. Mrs. Moore has nearly a lifetime of public service and reputation for getting things done. These representatives have raised the bar extremely high.
Even Representative Jackson will have to step up to fill the shoes of former Senator Charles D. Jones, whose legal mind produced legislation that resulted in economic districts, criminal justice reform and the most salient of them all, the creation of black judgeships across the state.
Filling the shoes of Senator Jones will be a formidable task, but her intellect, discipline and political prowess indicate that Rep. Jackson knows how to walk the line of being a representative for both the blacks and whites in her district without deference to either.
A few names are being whispered in our community as potential.
Many are watching to see what Attorney Frederick D. Jones will do. He is the son of former Senator Charles Jones and the brother of former Rep. Rosalind Jones. If he chooses to make the run, he will undoubtedly bring to the table the legal mind, passion, and legacy of the Jones family. He has not decided. If he does, very few will seriously challenge him.
A few other names are being mentioned, and a few others are being courted.
Our representatives have an extensive history of being our best thinkers, so we don’t need any nuts or quacks.They have also been fiercely independent. Amazingly, since former Senator Jones became the first Black representative for District 17 decades ago, none of our representatives have been accused of being bought and paid for by enemies of our community.
Anyone who rises to run for that seat must not be a “hungry dog.” Hungry dogs will sell us out for a few scrapes. If the person who comes forth is an elected official, check the campaign finance records of his/her previous campaigns to see who pulls the strings. Then, look at the thinking of that official during his/her term, and see if it has always been in our best interest.
We should look extremely hard at those who seek this office who are not attorneys or have not held public office before. Why? Primarily because State Representatives make laws, wrangle over budgets and carve out agreements that will ultimately help our people.
The best non-public official candidate will be the one with the most experience dealing with these issues.
The signs will start popping up soon. Hopefully, some of our better minds will come forth.
If not, the long legacy of exceptional leadership we have received from District 16 and 17 representatives could very well come to an end.