District 12 council challenger: Turnout favors him

Both candidates in the Dec. 8 runoff election for the East Baton Rouge Metro Council District 12 seat said voter turnout in the holiday season will be the deciding factor in the race.

Lawyer John Delgado, who is challenging incumbent Smokie Bourgeois for the right to represent Southdowns, Kenilworth, Pollard Estates and other areas, said a lower turnout would favor him.

“With motivated voters going out there, I think we have a better shot at it,” he said.

Delgado, who said he spent nearly $60,000 in the primary race and has raised another $18,000 for the runoff, said his campaign would continue to try to reach voters.

He said he wasn’t surprised by narrowly making the runoff.

Delgado, with 4,898 votes, finished just 206 votes ahead of Democrat Rose Carey.

“I was surprised by the turnout,” Delgado said. “It was amazing.”

His campaign will follow the same strategy as it did in the primary, utilizing direct mail and canvassing neighborhoods seeking support, he said.

One thing he won’t do, Delgado said, is put out more signs with his “no new taxes” logo.

“I didn’t like that sign; I still don’t like it,” he said. “We tried several different ways of conveying the message that we want to do more and spend less.”

City government must “look at every possible alternative to a new tax” before supporting a new tax, Delgado said.

The sign, which pictured a guy pulling his pockets out, was a “Cliff’s notes” way of getting that message across, Delgado said.

“I am a reasonable Republican,” he said. “I know there will be instances where it will be inevitable that we will have to issue a new tax, whether it be a renewal, a roll forward, or whatever.”

Delgado also criticized Bourgeois, saying he had accomplished little in his four years on the Metro Council.

“Being obstreperous is not an accomplishment,” he said of Bourgeois, a vocal critic of downtown projects and the mixed-use development Rouzan.

“Everything he has done has helped himself or it’s just obstructionist,” Delgado said.

Bourgeois, who spent about $9,000 for his re-election effort, said his biggest accomplishment was caring for the people of District 12.

“It’s been returning phone calls, going to see what the problems were, fighting with the city to get things done,” he said. “Problems with a sewer, a tree, or whatever. That’s a lot of what a city councilman does.”

He questioned Delgado’s promise to work with other council members.

“He says he’s going to form coalitions and all that,” Bourgeois said. “In reality, that doesn’t happen.”

Bourgeois also took aim at Delgado’s promise on taxes.

“I am going to do this and I am going to do that, but no new taxes,” Bourgeois said. “If that man’s a Republican, I am an astronaut.”

Bourgeois said he wasn’t sure what the turnout for the election would be, or how it would affect the race.

“I am as curious as you as to who is going to win this,” he said.

Early voting for the Dec. 8 runoff election begins Saturday.