- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - In a race with few contentious issues, the candidates running for lieutenant governor tried to distinguish themselves Monday with their records in other elected offices.

Three Republicans - state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas, former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and Jefferson Parish President John Young - and Democrat, Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden are seeking the job.

The lieutenant governor leads Louisiana’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and serves as the figurehead for the state’s $11 billion tourism industry. The seat is open because Republican Jay Dardenne is running for governor.

All four candidates in the Oct. 24 election said during a Press Club of Baton Rouge forum that they’d continue Dardenne’s approach of working as tourism secretary, rather than hiring someone for the job. They all said they’d push to bolster the industry and use it as a job-creator for the state.

To draw distinctions, they highlighted their public service records.

Guillory said he’s worked in government jobs across five states.

“We need someone who just has the nuts and bolts of government down. I have the experience, the training,” he said.

Nungesser noted that he sought office after Hurricane Katrina because he didn’t see enough leadership.

“I’m sick and tired of elected officials getting elected and only doing what they have to do to get re-elected, no more, no less,” he said.

Young, a former prosecutor and former city councilman, said he’d tout the benefits of the tourism industry, which he said brings a $38 return for every $1 spent. He described taking over as parish president after several officials were jailed on corruption charges.

“I took over a government crippled by a corruption scandal, restored the public’s trust in that government and brought it back financially,” he said.

Holden, a former state lawmaker, talked of his economic development wins in Baton Rouge during his 11 years as mayor.

None offered specific solutions for reopening park attractions and historic sites that have been closed or have slashed hours because of recent budget cuts.

Guillory said wasteful state government spending should be cut in other areas and the dollars invested in tourism. Nungesser said the state should consider more partnerships with private industry. Young said he’d work with the state’s next governor on funding options.

The candidates differed on whether they’d take the state police security detail offered to the lieutenant governor.

Young and Nungesser said they wouldn’t ask for the state troopers to guard them and drive them to events, while Holden and Guillory said they would.

Guillory, who said he’s been a reserve police officer for 22 years, said security is necessary. Holden added that elected officials are “prime targets” for people.

“The sad reality of life is you basically have to have a security detail around you,” Holden said.

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