Dardenne wants to tone down partisanship
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has made no secret of his plans to run for governor in 2015, but remarked on Tuesday that he will work to return the state back to its non-partisanship tradition.
Dardenne was at the Wedell-Williams Aviation Museum where a replica of a historic racing airplane built in 1932 by Louisiana aviation pioneers Jimmie Wedell and Harry P. Williams was unveiled for display.
“Traditionally, Louisiana has been a bi-partisan state. I hope the partisanship will go down,” Dardenne said. “Part of my message is that North and South need to work together; Republicans and Democrats need to work together, to continue to move the state forward.”
Dardenne said Louisiana, like much of the nation, has shifted strongly into a partisanship mode the past 10 years and that has not been a good thing. Part of toning down the partisanship is realizing that compromise is not a dirty word, he said.
“You have to stand by your principles but you also have to find middle ground where you can come together on issues,” Dardenne said.
The region has been one of the leading areas of economic strength in the country the past few years and that trend should continue, he said.
“Before the BP oil spill, Houma was the fastest growing area in the country,” he said. “The next four to five years will be strong ones for the Louisiana economy. The projects on hand for Louisiana are exciting. We are moving in the right direction and there will be a lot of development for the state.”
As the state prepares for new projects and developments, there will be an increased demand for skilled training such as offered at technical colleges such as the Young Memorial Campus of South Central Louisiana Technical College, Dardenne said.
“A trained work force is important,” Dardenne said. “I am a big believer in the technical college system for workers that are not seeking a four-year degree, but can be trained and immediately go to work.”
Supporting tourism and promoting the state is a major aspect of the lieutenant governor’s office in Louisiana. Dardenne has fought to protect revenues collected for tourism that have been subject to periodic raids by Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature. He said he would continue that commitment to promoting the state and tourism as governor.
There are few areas in state spending that actually generate income for the state, and tourism is one of them, Dardenne said.
The budget has been and will likely continue to be tight, which requires prioritizing on spending and projects, Dardenne said. The budget is an area where working across the aisle and with all regions of the state is important and sometimes a compromise must be reached, he said.
“We have a lot of budgeting challenges,” Dardenne said.
Promotion of Louisiana’s seafood is the responsibility of the lieutenant governor’s office. The state has been able to tap into a multi-million dollar payment from BP after the oil spill, which it has utilized to overcome any residual stigma on Louisiana seafood quality after the spill, Dardenne said. There is about $8 million left in the fund and when it is gone the state will need to find other ways to generate revenue to continue to promote Louisiana seafood, he added.
But promotional dollars do not help in easing the losses fishermen experienced after the 2011 oil spill, he said.
The quality of Louisiana seafood is excellent, but the quantity of some catches such as crabs were not good last year, he said. Some fishermen are rethinking their occupations, he said.
“We have to create the next generation of fishermen,” he said. “We have fewer people fishing. We have to ask, ‘How do we sustain this aspect of our culture and this industry?’ It is a challenge.”
Although falling short of a formal announcement, Dardenne began a website in November, jaydardenne.com, which he said will help him and his campaign team spread his message.
Dardenne did not indicate when he would announce his candidacy.