Facing primary elections on Oct. 12, the 57th governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, made a short visit on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 at Xavier University of Louisiana’s Administration Building auditorium to share with students how his administration has worked to improve the state.
Edwards said his policies have increased teachers’ wages for the first time in 10 years, has worked to diversify the state’s economy, and expanded enrollment in state Medicare. Edwards encouraged attendees to participate in their civic duty and vote in local, state, and national elections. He opened up his visit to allow students to ask questions, which the students said was a rare opportunity to have a one-on-one with him.
The state’s environmental vulnerability was a topic that students asked the governor what his plans were. With the state’s coastline receding due to climate change and natural disasters, students wanted to know how can residents protect themselves from future disasters.
“The longer we wait the bigger problem it is, and we need to make sure to let science to dictate what we do,” Edwards told the students.
In recent debates with his more conservative opponents, Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, both Republicans acknowledged that they did not attribute changes to the environment to climate change or human impact on the environment. It was not the only issue they attacked Edwards on. They have charged that Edwards is soft on crime and immigration. Despite his opponents’ accusations, Edwards said he was motivated to serve the state to leave it in a better position for his children.
“In my second term as legislator, I became very displeased at decisions being made and was concerned about the future of Louisiana, I thought there was a better way,” Edwards said. “One of the biggest obstacles I had was as a state legislator from Amite, Louisiana and as a Democrat a lot of people said that ‘there was no chance from him to win,’” Edwards said.
Currently, Edwards is the only Democrat who is the governor of a Southern state. According to a poll conducted between September 19 -21, Edwards leads in the polls with 46 percent and Ripone is second with 21 percent. Edwards must earn over 50 percent to avoid facing a challenger for a runoff that would be then scheduled for Nov. 16.
In appealing to younger voters in the state to support him and his policies, Edwards has reached out to college students, particularly at historically black colleges and universities through social media and campus visits. He touted how his administration will continue to support these institutions.
“The answer is simple; we want education and prosperity for everyone but especially for those who are most challenged and while only 3 percent of the nation’s universities are HBCUs, 22 percent of all four-year degrees awarded to African Americans in the United States are by an HBCU,” Edwards.