Ivey wins legislative seat

With all the ballots counted late Saturday, Barry Ivey won the race to represent the city of Central and Baton Rouge neighborhoods near the Amite in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

The Secretary of State reported 2,202 or 53 percent of the votes cast for Ivey, a 33-year-old businessman making his first run for public office.

Metro Councilman Scott Wilson polled 1,953 votes or 47 percent, according to a complete but unofficial tally by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Both Republicans from Central called themselves conservatives and had competed to replace Clif Richardson, R-Central, who resigned last year for health reasons.

The race for Louisiana House District 65 was one of two elections being held in Louisiana on Saturday to fill the remainder of terms in the Louisiana Legislature.

In Jefferson Parish, Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, won with 2,693 ballots of 55.98 percent of the vote. She is an accountant making her first complete run for public office. She defeated three Metairie Republicans: Allison Bent Bowler, finance director of Benjamin Franklin High School, polled 9.29 percent of the vote; Jack Rizzuto, who ran in 2007 for the seat and had 33.24 percent of the vote; and lawyer Paul Hankins Villalobos, who received 1.5 percent of the total vote.

During the East Baton Rouge Parish campaign, both candidates promised to work to relieve traffic congestion — a key issue for people living in the eastern part of East Baton Rouge Parish. Both supported extensions and expansions of area roads to give commuters alternative ways to get downtown.

Ivey is president of Pinnacle Precision Services. He graduated Central High School and LSU. He is married and has four children.

“I am an ordinary citizen who is very concerned about the direction of our government and the erosion of our freedom. I want to make a difference,” Ivey wrote in his questionnaire for the East Baton Rouge Parish Executive Committee, which endorsed him.

Ivey said in an earlier interview that he is generally supportive of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to overhaul the state’s tax system. But he said he would withhold his final decision until he has a chance to review the details when the legislation is filed.

Ivey said he would like a seat on the House Education committee. He said he wanted to help improve education in Louisiana.

House District 65 has 27,631 registered voters, 21,496 of whom are white and 10,774 are Republican. Only 4,155 people voted Saturday, or about 15 percent of the total eligible on March 1, according to the Secretary of State’s registration records.

The low turnout predicted by Secretary of State Tom Schedler had predicted a 16 to 18 percent total turnout for the two elections.

Schedler said low turnout in these two elections — the only balloting in the state on Saturday — would prove his point that Louisiana asks voters to come to the polls too often, particularly on smaller issues that can wait and be consolidated in fewer elections considering more issues.

A study showed that Louisiana held 70 elections — about double the rest of the country — between January 2005 and December 2010, Schedler said.

That said, however, Schedler added he understood the need to fill the seats in the state House of Representatives before the Louisiana Legislature convenes April 8. “People need to have their representative in place when the session begins,” Schedler said.

Staging an election for the House District 65 costs about $34,000.

Louisiana House District 65 represents about 42,000 people living in the northeastern portion of East Baton Rouge Parish, roughly south of Denham Road to about South Harrell’s Ferry Road and east of Flannery Road to the Amite River.