One touted his experience as a Metro councilman.
The other emphasized his enthusiasm.
Two candidates interested in running in a special election for state Rep. Clif Richardson’s District 65 seat spoke Tuesday to members of the Chamber of Commerce of East Baton Rouge Parish.
The chamber formed earlier this year to represent the interests of local small-business owners.
Metro Councilman Scott Wilson and businessman Barry Ivey touched on the state’s budget problems and breakaway school districts.
Richardson, R-Central, plans to resign in January to focus on his battle with blood cancer.
A special election will be held March 2 to choose a replacement.
Both Wilson and Ivey are Republicans with political credentials.
Wilson, 44, recently won re-election to the Metro Council. Ivey, 33, serves on the Republican State Central Committee.
“It’s a learning experience. You have a learning curve,” Wilson said, referring to serving on the council.
Ivey said he is relatively new to the political scene.
“I’m one of those crazy idealists who believe they can make a difference,” Ivey said.
The forum offered Wilson and Ivey an opportunity to introduce themselves and field questions from the audience.
Wilson, who owns a trucking business, stated he is concerned about the nearly $1 billion shortfall forecast for the state budget year that starts July 1.
“The budget is $25 billion. We only have four million people in the state,” he said.
Ivey, who is a piping mechanical contractor, characterized himself as an anti-establishment candidate who opposes gay marriage and abortion.
“I can’t stand the status quo,” he said. “Innovation is everything.”
Wilson said he supports the establishment of a new school district in southeast Baton Rouge, which narrowly failed in the Legislature earlier this year.
He said districts such as the breakaway district in Central are trying to set their own paths.
Ivey said he is 110 percent behind a breakaway school district.
Audience member Elizabeth Dent said Richardson took a stand against the CATS tax.
Baton Rouge and Baker voters approved a $15.3 million property tax increase in April for the Capital Area Transit System, or CATS, which operates the bus system.
Dent wanted to know if Wilson and Ivey would be as brave as Richardson.
Ivey said he is not afraid to be the only dissenter.
He said positive things follow when people do things for the right reasons.
Wilson said he opposed the CATS tax and showed through his service on the Metro Council that he is willing to stand up.
Financial planner Tony Boudreaux asked if the candidates would be willing to give an accounting before and after each legislative session.
Wilson said that would be no problem.
“I’m not going to be able to do that,” Ivey said, before quickly clarifying that he was joking.
Ivey said he strives to be transparent.
He said he intends to be an overcommunicator and use technology to his advantage.
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