Seven 5th Congressional District candidates spoke Monday night at the Bastrop/Morehouse Chamber of Commerce and Bastrop Daily Enterprise's Candidate Forum held at the Bastrop Municipal Center.
Those in attendance were allowed to give the audience an overview of their platform and background before answering two predetermined questions.
Speaking in alphabetical order, the first candidate was Henry Herford (L), a retired educator and Delhi native.
Running as a Libertarian, Herford said if elected, he would work to repel ObamaCare and protect Second Amendment rights. He spoke about his background in the political arena and his stance on the race.
"A deal was made for this position. Rodney, Bobby and Neil made a corrupt deal but, 13 people in the state stood up to the deal," Herford stated.
Commissioner Clyde Holloway (R) was the next to speak and he spoke about his tenure of being a three-term Congressman before redistricting did away with his area. He currently serves on the Public Service Commission and owns a nursery in his hometown of Forest Hill.
His platform consists of balancing the budget and reform in both immigration and healthcare.
Morehouse Parish native and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo (D) spoke next and his platform is working to create a balanced budget and making improvements to the Affordable Health Care system. Mayo stated while serving as Monroe's mayor, the town's budget had seen a number of surpluses. Mayo also stated he thought it was asinine to shut down the federal government in order for a political party to get it's way.
Vance McAllister (R) is a self-made business man who has created 12 area companies from the ground up and stresses education, proper treatment for the elderly and helping small businesses. But, McAllister feels there are deeper problems in Washington.
I don't believe we can have a political fix until we have a spiritual fix," McAllister said.
Representative Jay Morris (R) has also opened several small businesses and describes himself as a "Constitutional Conservative." He feels small businesses will feel the brunt of the Affordable Health Care Act and is determined to fight against it.
Senator Neil Riser (R) grew up in the timber business and is against ObamaCare and also feels that the nation's borders should be secured. Additionally, he is for energy independence.
Blake Weatherly (R) is a civil engineer who has helped many small towns develop infrastructure. He wrote a four-page health care act which he feels is much more user friendly than ObamaCare.
The candidates were asked the question in regards to health care:
ObamaCare states that "Most Americans must obtain qualified health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, get an exemption or pay a fine for each month they are without insurance..."
Do you view this as taking away a right from citizens or do you feel that the positive outcomes of ObamaCare will outweigh the personal freedom of choice to not have insurance?
Herford said he is totally against ObamaCare and feels it is too political.
Holloway feels that the whole program is not bad, but feels it was pushed through incorrectly. He stated he too is totally opposed to it.
Mayo feels there are some things in the program that needs to be changed and that by tweaking it, there will be a positive outcome.
McAllister is against the plan and feels like citizens should work for what they get. He feels this act is more of a mandate than an act.
Norris thinks that like other government run programs intended to help the poor, ObamaCare will not work. He feels it is an affront to personal liberty.
Riser is for defunding and repealing the act. He feels it is not good for small businesses, the state, the nation or the economy.
Weatherly stated again that he has wrote a much simpler act and feels that the government should not be able to tax those who do not have coverage.
The second question was in regards to gun rights:
In recent months there has been much discussion regarding gun control. While Louisiana citizens are allowed to open carry as well as obtain concealed carry permits, do you feel gun laws should be a federal issue or a state issue?
Weatherly feels the system needs to be reviewed, as some federal laws are outdated but says it is citizens' responsibility to learn and teach gun safety.
Riser stated he is nonnegotiable on Second Amendment rights and he firmly stands by them.
Morris also is a firm believer in the Second Amendment and supports laws that are for that right.
McAllister feels it is citizens rights to keep and bear arms, as is stated in the Second Amendment.
Mayo said he does have issues with those who go into public places and shoots innocent people.
Holloway stated that it doesn't take a lot of courage to support the Second Amendment and run for Congress.
Herford stated that he is not a member of the NRA, but said the Amendment clearly states..."shall not be infringed upon..."
Early voting for the race has already begun and will continue until Oct. 12. The election will be held Oct. 19. Candidates not in attendance were Eliot S. Baron (G) of New Orleans, "Tom" Gibbs (O) of Fairbanks, Marcus Hunter (D) of Monroe, Robert Johnson (D) of Marksville, Peter Williams (O) of Lettsworth and S.B.A. Zaitoon (L) of Baton Rouge.