Concordia Sentinel - Campbell Campaigns for Governor in Concordia
by Joey Martin
Foster Campbell credits Concordia Parish and its neighbors for his position as Public Service Commissioner.
Now he's counting on the same area to get him into the Governor's office.
"If it would not have been for this area, I would not have been elected Public Service Commissioner," Campbell told the Ferriday Rotary Club Thursday. "I feel like I am home here. And I am aware of the problems here. This area is one of the poorest in the state and country and is a big priority for me."
Gubernatorial qualifying opens Sept. 4. The primary election is Oct. 20.
In addition to the Democrat Campbell, Rep. Bobby Jindal, State Sen. Walter Boasso, Republican businessman John Georges, and Libertarian T. Lee Horne have announced plans to run.
Campbell, who announced his intentions to run for governor in March, was introduced by Ferriday's Al Ater, who finished Fox McKeithen's term as Secretary of State, but elected not to seek the office when his term expired. Ater's older brother, Donnie, was a roommate of Campbell's at Northwestern State.
"I won't say the year," Ater added.
Campbell was elected to the Public Service Commission in 2002. He unseated a popular incumbent Don Owen, a former television news anchorman in Shreveport.
"I knew this area was important," Campbell said referring to Concordia Parish. "I actually won from this area over to Arcadia."
Campbell represents 24 parishes and nearly one million people.
He served 27 years in the Louisiana Senate representing District 36 in Northwest Louisiana.
"I've always said that what Louisiana needs are politicians who represent the people's interests, not special interests," Campbell said. "What we need now is bold leadership and courage from politicians."
Campbell said if elected, his plan calls for instituting a fee on all oil and gas produced in the state, including foreign oil, and eliminating the severance tax paid only by Louisiana producers.
Campbell said such an oil processing fee would result in more than $1 billion in state funds being set aside for coastal restoration and preservation efforts. Recent studies have indicated that the state has about 10 years in which to work to reverse the effects of coastal erosion.
Campbell said he will eliminate the state income tax by instituting a processing fee on foreign oil when elected governor. Louisiana's personal income tax that takes $21/2 billion from hard-working Louisianans each year would be eliminated. So would the corporate income tax, which costs businesses almost $500 million. The state severance tax, applied only to Louisiana oil and gas producers and not to foreign countries and companies, would be eliminated.
Campbell said he will introduce a constitutional amendment that will allow Louisiana voters to approve a Oil and Gas Processing Fee that will provide $51/2 billion dollars each year.
Campbell said within 10 minutes of being elected governor he will ask the legislators to get their suitcases and go into session to discuss oil companies in the state.
"Then voters can see which legislators are serious about the issues," he said.
Campbell owns and operates Campbell Insurance Agency and Premier Insurance Agency, both of Bossier City. He lives and raises cattle at Elm Grove in south Bossier Parish. He has six children.
As a state senator Campbell led a three-year campaign to regulate the rates charged by rural electric cooperatives, lowering electric bills for a million state residents.
In the mid-1980s he created the Bossier Educational Excellence Fund for Bossier Parish schools from Louisiana Downs racetrack revenues; the BEEF now contains $12 million raised from racetrack and casino revenues. Using BEEF as a model, he created the $1-billion Louisiana Educational Excellence Fund for local schools from the state Tobacco Settlement. In 2001 he co-authored the "Do Not Call" legislation protecting consumers from sales calls at home.
At the PSC Campbell has pushed to make utility companies and the commission more accountable to the people. He has led efforts to restrict entertainment of commissioners and staff by utilities. He hosts public meetings in each parish in his district each year, and persuaded the full commission to move its monthly meetings around the state.
In 2004 he made national and international news by leading the effort to provide telephone service for the Mink and Shaw communities, the last areas of Louisiana to receive telephones. In 2005 he persuaded the Federal Communications Commission to set aside $39 million to provide free cellular phones to Hurricane Katrina evacuees. He has championed job-creation by utilities, efforts to make bill-paying more convenient and the use of renewable energy.
"When I came back to Ferriday I had an elderly lady tell me she didn't have phone service and she was from Blackhawk/Shaw," Campbell said. "Her story was more serious. Her husband died in her arms because she could not call a physician."
Campbell said if elected he will open offices in the northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest portions of the state, similar to his Public Service Commission satellite office in Ferriday.
Campbell stressed that there is no excuse for Louisiana to be ranked 50th in so many categories.
"We have squandered our resources," he said. "We have to be more aggressive. There is no excuse for being ranked below Arkansas and Mississippi."