Republicans Face Off at Republican Women’s Candidate Forum

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By Dave Freneaux

    Monday evening all area Republican candidates seeking election on October 22nd were invited to speak at a forum held at Pit Crew Steak House & BBQ here in Central.  After a meal and informal conversation each candidate was given four minutes to share their qualifications, their platform and their vision for the office they seek.  In races most closely affecting Central, six candidates (above and left) all spoke.  See below for a summary of their statements.  Also speaking were Lt. Governor challenger Billy Nungesser, Secretary of State Tom Schedler, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, State Representative Clif Richardson, State Representative Dist. 63 candidate Barbara Thomas, BESE Board incumbent Chas Roemer, EBRP Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, EBRP Coroner incumbent Dr. Shannon Cooper and challenger Dr. Beau Clark and Zachary Police Chief Candidate candidate David McDavid.  The video of the forum will be available on Central Speaks TV.

Derek Babcock – Senate District 13

    Derek Babcock has spent the last eight years serving at the state and local level.  He is the vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Family Forum, supporting pro-life and pro-family legislation. 

    Mr. Babcock has served on the board of the National Association of Insurers and Financial Advisors and is the treasurer of the Republican Parish Executive Committee in Livingston Parish.

    He serves as the chairman of the Livingston Parish Citizens for Highways and Infrastructure, lobbying for improvements in the parish.  Mr. Babcock owns a health insurance agency, was raised by parents who were small business owners, and understands the concerns of small businesses.

Dale Erdey – Senate District 13

    Dale Erdey is the incumbent in Senate District 13.  He attended LSU and has a Degree in Business Administration and is the President of Erdey Insurance Agency.  Senator Erdey is the former Mayor of Livingston Parish and served as a State Representative for two terms.

    Erdey Serves on Senate Committees for Revenue & Fiscal Affairs, Health & Welfare, and Environmental Quality, and is the Vice Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.  In that capacity he has, and will continue to, fight to improve the roads in District 13.

    Senator Erdey worked with Representatives Bodi White and Donald Ray Kennard to help create the Central School District and is supportive of teacher pay raises.  He is pro-business and has been instrumental in creating many jobs in his District.  Finally, Erdey is anti-loop and led the charge to block Senate funding for the loop.

Bodi White – Senate District 6

   Bodi White graduated from Southeastern where he studied Criminal Justice and the law, he then served in law enforcement and now has spent the last two terms in the House of Representatives writing the laws.  Working closely with the Attorney General, he has helped 500 families in this area recover their retirements lost in the Stanford Group scam.

    Representative White is a life-long resident of Central and has always been a community activist but never ran for any political office until his successful election to the House in 2003.  He was instrumental in the effort to create the City of Central and in passing the legislation to create the Central Community School District.  Both the City and the School System now have budget surpluses and Central has set the standard for saving taxpayer dollars through privatization.

Mike Mannino – Senate District 6

    Mike Mannino shares that he is not a career politician and that he is a citizen’s advocate, fighting for citizen’s rights.  He is a 33 year employee of Exxon.  He states that he is a life-long anti-tax, small government, Christian conservative and a founding member of Tax Busters.  He seeks to get government back into the boundaries of limited powers, and feels that government has strayed beyond its legitimate powers.

    Mr. Mannino opposes increased taxes and government waste, and supports the right to bear arms and integrity in government.  He feels that his work experience at Exxon qualifies him to manage the tax dollars of the State of Louisiana.  He pledges never to vote for increased taxes and never to vote for a pay raise.

Barry Elkins – House District 64

    Barry Elkins graduated from LSU and taught school for three years, then spent 15 years selling high end medical equipment to hospitals throughout the southeast.   In 1991 he enrolled in law School at Southern University and graduated in 1994. Since then he and his wife have operated Magnolia Title, closing residential and commercial transactions.

    Mr. Elkins has volunteered with the Boy Scouts in this area for the last 15 years and served on the Board of Directors of the Istrouma Area Council. He was one of the founding members of the Governor’s Sporting Clay Shoot, and as Chairman of this group for two years raised over $100,000 for the Boy Scouts and Camp Avondale.

    Mr. Elkins is very involved in the housing industry and is acutely aware of the problems of falling property values and high property taxes.  He also is committed to improving education and roads in the District but opposes the loop.

Valarie Hodges – House District 64

    Valarie Hodges stated that she has spent 28 years dedicating her life to being active in the community and serving others.  She is on the Executive Board of the Republican Party of Louisiana.  She is a founder and past president of the Livingston Parish Republican Women’s Club.

    Ms. Hodges has volunteered for Senators Vitter and Cassidy and Governor Jindal.  Ms. Hodges is very involved with CASA and the WOW organization (Women Outreaching Women) and works with the Coroner in a suicide prevention program she helped to start.

    She and her husband, a pastor and homebuilder, also run an international nonprofit organization.  She was a missionary for 18 years and thus understands working with those who are disadvantaged.   Ms. Hodges shared that she is tired of seeing jobs go overseas and is committed to infracsructure improvements in the District. 


  1. Ray Ashford

    September 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Sounds like it an uneventful face off. No fireworks?

  2. Ray Ashford

    September 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Sounds like an uneventful face off. No fireworks ?

  3. Debbie

    September 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    No Ray, no fireworks.
    Protocol was set for the forum and almost every candidate followed the criteria set by
    The Republican Women of Central.
    But in answer to your question no “fireworks”.

  4. Ray

    September 25, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Thanks Debbie. So protocol would be qualifications,platform,and vision in four minutes. Sounds like a meet and greet. If thats the case would faceoff or fireworks describing this event, be considered yellow journalism. My daughter needed some example’s of yellow journalism for class and I wondered if the two Central papers would qualify with their respective headlines this week.

    • dave

      September 25, 2011 at 9:32 am


      Seriously? Faceoff: “To be in or come into opposition or competition”, “to engage in a contest. Synonyms include “contend, race, rival and vie”. Ray, this was the very first public event in which candidates for elected office representing Central had an opportunity to showcase THEIR qualifications alongside the qualifications of their opponents. The choice of the word “Faceoff” was almost boringly benign. In addition, I chose to repect the Republican Women of Central by printing exactly what they asked the candidates to share, and that was THEIR qualifications, THEIR strong points, and THEIR platform. Those were the instructions given by the moderator.

      Yellow Journalism is a pretty stiff accusation. I suggest you sit with your daughter, discuss the definition of faceoff, then read the entirety of the coverage provided on the event and determine if there is any evidence of Yellow Journalism evidebt in Central Speaks. Then do the same analysis of the headlines and content of the other publication.


  5. Ray

    September 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    From the oracle education foundation: Yellow journalism, in short, is biased opinion masquerading as objective fact. Moreover, the practice involved sensationalism, distorted stories, and misleading images for the sole purpose of boosting newspaper sales of two papers founded and pupularized in the late 19th century-THe New York World, run by Joseph Pulitzer and the New York Journal, run by William Randolph Hearst.
    The last paragraph states:What is the remedy of yellow journalism? Simply double and triple check ones sources and reading between the lines. If one disregards the obvious marketing that is used to hook readers, newspapers may actually prove to be reliable sources of information.
    So, am I to understand that you, in respect to the RW of Central, chose to leave off statements that were made by candidates that didn’t meet RW criteria and those of the moderator.

    • dave

      September 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Please be specific and let me know what in this coverage meets your, or any, definition of yellow journalism.

      And, I did not even attempt to include all statements made by all candidates, otherwise I would have just published a transcript of their actual words, which would not have begun to fit in print. I summarized each candidates information and statements that were responsive to the purpose of the function. I did not publish many things that each candidate chose to speak about, especially those statements taht had no bearing on their qualifications, and was particularly conscious of the need to keep the size of the article reasonable so that t could be printed at all. The most important information presented were qualifications, which is not only what the RWC asked for, but also the only thing that will benefit the voters of Central once this election is over.

  6. Ray

    September 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I’m still re-searching with my daughter and trying to find the true definition of what yellow journalism present day. So what your saying is using fireworks or faceoff to describe this so-called forum would be an enhancement. The information given or wanted from these candidates is readily available from other sources and common knowledge to most people who try to keep up with the candidates involved. What’s the point of these type meetings as it regards the general public? So your saying you printed, in your opinion, what you think would benefit me as a voter.

    • dave

      September 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm


      Looked at from that perspective, I can say I printed all of what I believed to be true, verifiable and complete based on what I heard and what Mr. Mannino supplied to me (which was nothing, and I have asked and still received nothing). I am still gathering information on the accusations leveled by Mannino, and I will do the same if White makes accusations about Mannino. I already know that what has been reported elsewhere is not the entire story. Whether the rest of the information clears White or whether it substantiates Mannino, from a news perspective, I do not get to care. There was an amazing amount of research already done between Monday night’s forum and that week’s deadline. I just must not have as good a source as the other paper.


  7. Ray

    September 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Dave, as a journalist, is there an instance, outside of Central publications, were you can identify modern day yellow journalism off the top of your head. Not asking you to research. I can’t quite grasp the true meaning without an example, if it still exists today. Let me be very clear that other than shaking the hands of Mr. Mannino and Mr White before the Woodlawn game, I have never spoken to either person about this election. I am happy that Mr Mannino is running but have not made a decision as to whom I will cast my vote. In fact I feel very uncomfortable having candidates at the entrance of the field with their supporters in tow. Having said that, I feel a persons character and record of political service is just as important as their qualifications,platform and vision. I appreciate the fact that you are researching what was said, and hope you see fit to reveal your findings regardless of whom you are supporting. Politics are really tough around election time in a small community. Because people are connected by friends or family of friends, and so on. Unfortunately politics can get personal and feeling get hurt. I don’t look so much for what a candidate can do for me but for one that can protect what I already have if that makes since. Thanks for responding to my questions and concerns. If you look back at my post you will notice that I accused know one of yellow journalism. It sounds like a demeaning term, but wasn’t the pulitzer prize named for or created by one of those portrayed to be involved in such journalism?

  8. Ryan

    September 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm


    Are you saying that you asked Mr.Mannino for the documents that his speech was based on? I seem to remember him holding up some documents during his speech that pertained to the issues he brought up with Mr. White. I can’t imagine that if you asked for them during your research that he would not be willing to give them to you to show that the statements he made are “FACTS”

  9. Mike Mannino

    September 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Dave I really dont have time to engage on these issues on a computer right now as its a super bust time as you can imagine. However someone alerted me there was some incorrect information on here. But lets be clear. Everything that has been said and printed, including my comments, are backed by a corresponding piece of paper. Lets also be clear that I brought this to you a year ago and you didnt think it was a big deal. And one last thing, you HAVE NOT asked to see anything or I would gladly oblige. But if memory serves me correct, I believe I did show you the papers of the property transfer involving my opponent WITH his signature, the same document I presented Monday night. As painful as this is for some, I have presented nothing but facts, what people make of them is not my decision. And the fact is, as I have been saying for a year, my opponents business partners, operating out of the same building he does, have benefited from legislation he has passed. Your readers will have to figure out if thats acceptable to them.

    • dave

      September 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      If we are going to be clear, let’s be completely clear. We can start with the text exchange you and I had last night and this morning, which you requested AFTER the text conversation that I treat as “off the record”. With no obligation to do so, I will choose not to discuss the content of our conversation here. However, I challenge you to state that I did not ask you for information in that conversation and I challenge you to state that you are not withholding information on this issue from me. It is certainly your right to do so, but if you are, and want to make a public issue of it, at least admit it and don’t lay it off on me.

      Now let’s go back to last Friday when we visited in person in my office. Will you state for the record that I did not ask you for any documentation or information you have on this issue? For the record, your statement in your last post: “And one last thing, you HAVE NOT asked to see anything or I would gladly oblige.” is categorically untrue in the face of the conversation you and I had in my office last week at your request. Rather than saying that you intentionally mis-spoke, I am willing to write that untruth off to your memory not serving you correctly, as you refer to in your next statement, which was “But if memory serves me correct, I believe I did show you the papers of the property transfer involving my opponent WITH his signature, the same document I presented Monday night.” Apparently your memory is not serving you too well, because the only time I have seen that document was from 25 feet away as you waved it at the audience from behind the podium at the RWC Forum.

      Going a bit further back in time, you know that my stance on these issues has always been consistent. If you have evidence of wrongdoing, lay it out there for everyone to see, call the FBI, Police and Attorney General and ask them to arrest someone. If you have evidence of ethics violations, report them to the Ethics Board and lead the charge to throw someone out of office. You have been consistently unwilling to provide documentation for a number of claims you have made on Facebook as well as on this site. Interesting that nothing was worth going public with until now.

      Finally, this is a public request that if you have information that is not yet published which is pertinent to the claims you have leveled against your opponent, I am asking you, in the presence of the several billion users of the internet, that you supply that information so that the truth that I attempt to provide to the citizens of Central is as complete as I can obtain. I have stated before, and I state here again, if the entire truth damages EITHER your campaign or your opponent’s campaign, I do not have the luxury of caring one way or the other. My job as a newspaper is to provide information, not to tell you what to think about it, except when clearly identified as an editorial.


  10. Mike Mannino

    September 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Dave what else would you like ? The documents I held up ? What is more clear than the timeline with every single document to back it up ? Once again, I think you are twisting things that are very well documented and very clear. The interpretation of all this is up to an individual and their beliefs. The facts of the timeline are not. As far as witholding information, I am as cautious as you are about the facts. Until I can validate and back up what else I have, I certainly dont intend to just slap it all over this page.

    Finally, ANYBODY that wants to see the documents is welcome to call me and I will be more than glad to show them.

    • dave

      September 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      Again, I have not the first piece of paper from you. You say you will show the documents to “ANYBODY that wants”, yet you sit in my office last week at and say you are not prepared to provide any information to me. I’m guessing I am simply not included in your definition of ANYBODY??? How can I twist something that you say is “well documented” when you will not release the “documents”. I am here and now making a Public Request for your Documents. First you say you will give documents to “ANYBODY”, then you say you are cautious and won’t release anything until you can validate it and back it up??? One of us is confused.

      Finally, let’s be clear again. I have not questioned the timeline and information presented, but I am doing my research to fill in any missing information. All I want is for the people of Central to know the whole story. if you are uncomfortable sharing what you have, it is yours so I can’t fault you for keeping it to yourself, but don’t on one hand say you have information that ANYBODY can see, then not let it be seen, then fault me for not publishing what YOU won’t give me to publish.

  11. Ray

    September 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Mike since I see you posted, here is what I am fighting. The things that you seem to stand for line up with my personal beliefs. But you have little experience in the political arena. Mr White, has worked his way up through the political system and probably understands the process of getting things done for the city, I’m assuming, better than you because of his experience. However, the timeline/land purchase you submitted does cause me concern. Having said that, my dilemma finds me trying to decide what is right for me or what is good for my community. I wonder, for lack of a better word, if you can play well enough with other members to be able to bring infrastructure funding into our city. I would venture to say Mr White has formed good relationships with current members and thats what I guess it takes to attain this type of funding.
    Mr White, I hope you will respond to what Mr Mannino has submitted, and explain your version of what this timeline might mean in regards to you.
    I wonder if Dave would consider starting a topic for you gentlemen to respond to questions from him, and each other, to be answered at your conveniences.

  12. Mike Mannino

    September 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Dave please give me a break !!! You are mixing and matching statements. I WILL GIVE YOU ANYTHING I HAVE THAT BACKS UP CCN article on BREC last week. You are well aware that I said I wouldnt give you anything on some other issues that I dont have all the things neatly tied up in a bow yet. Even then, you wont believe it. ALL the BREC information I have you and anyone else is more than welcome to. IF you want to keep playing this game. Im just going to stop posting. I know you are more intelligent than this. THE BREC ISSUE I HAVE EVERY SCRAP OF PAPER TO VALIDATE THE TIMELINE.

  13. Mike Mannino

    September 26, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Great idea ! I would love some kind of forum where we can discuss the real issues.

    To address your concerns about playing with others, that skillset is a must where I work and I am more than capable.

    The question to me is not so much what I can bring to the district which I can accomplish without a doubt. Its a question of doing it in an ethical and honest way. That I can promise I will do !!!!!

    • dave

      September 26, 2011 at 9:23 pm


      Let me start over. I told you last week that I am proceeding to try to find the entire truth of the BREC issue. I asked you what, if anything, you might have to add to what was printed, and you have offered nothing. I have no expectation that you have more, but it would be irresponsible of me not to ask. Simple as that. My point, I asked and have received nothing, which is why I said so.

  14. Ray

    September 26, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Thanks for responding Mike. I know this political process is a game at times, thats why I used “play well with others”. Mike, do you understand my concerns as for as experience relating to the obtaining funding for city projects. Now I also understand that there are budget short-falls on the horizon, so a lot of this funding could be delayed. Maybe your vision of streamlining government could also free-up monies for this infrastructure funding.

  15. Mike Mannino

    September 26, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Ray right on target and I have brought this up. What we have to be very aware of is that everyone is clamoring for the Federal Government to stop deficet spending. What that means for a state like Louisiana is that we are going to see drastic cuts in Federal money. Louisiana is more dependent on Federal dollars than most so our challenge will be greater. The only way we will survive this wave is to stop spending money on things that are not the responsibilty of Government, increase our tax base through job creation, and to create tax policy that will draw business into the state. This model of tax breaks and incentives to draw business here is flawed and hurts small business owners. If we have a well educated population that is capable of filling positions for high tech companies and the infrastructure to support them, the rest will take care of itself. The top down model we have been using does not work. You have to have a solid foundation for any house to stand and this is no different.Its really not as complicated as some will make it out to be, its only that way because of the politics and the good ole boy system. No surprise because despite amazing progress in this state, there are remnants of the old guard and its time to retire them.

    Dave, my feet hurt from dancing so I will be issuing a Press Release to the local newspapers to address unanswered issues on this BREC controversy that my opponent has not commented on. Feel free to print or not, your choice.

    • dave

      September 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      Mike, when will your press release be available?

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