For Monroe's Scotty Robinson, Politics Is A Family Affair

MONROE, LA (AP) — Years before the popularity of the Internet and text messaging, 8-year-old Scotty Robinson watched as his parents sat around their kitchen table with a phone book calling as many people as they could.

         Their goal was to get Robinson's father, Scott Robinson, elected to the Ouachita Parish School Board. Their effort was successful — his father still sits on the board.

         At 29, young Robinson is now the Ouachita Parish Police Jury's youngest president ever. When he was first elected to the jury at 25 and sworn in at 26, he was the youngest member in parish history.

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         He said his father's campaign "kind of opened my eyes to politics. I helped campaign, knock on doors, hand out cards and stuff like that."

         Robinson contemplated running for several offices but was attracted to the Police Jury's stability.

         "I was 25 and owned a glass business," he said. "I had been watching some of the local elections and what was going on."

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         Several people wanted him to run for Congress last year, he said, but he demurred.

         "I felt like stepping off into Congress with zero experience starting out — I knew I couldn't bite off something that big. I wanted to do something local, so I looked at Police Jury."

         What finally decided him, he said, was a proposal to increase the tax to support Ouachita Correctional Center, which was having budget problems.

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         "I said, 'I know I'm still young and it's kind of early, but I feel like I can get out there and work hard and do some good things.'"

         Robinson beat Charles Jackson, the incumbent who had made the tax proposal, by more than 10 percent.

         "The year after I was elected, we passed just a plain renewal on the jail tax, and now the jail is doing well and is in the black," he said.

         In their first meeting of 2015, Robinson's colleagues voted him as president of the jury almost unanimously, with only one nay vote.

         "It's an honor," he said. "I've been there three full years now and they had enough faith in me to think that I can run the meetings. I'm honored by that. It's a big deal. I'm nervous, but I'm excited about. I've had some good help."

         After his first meeting as president, Robinson said he is emulating former President Shane Smiley: "Running a calm style meeting and inviting people to come in. I just want to work hard and be a good steward of the taxpayers' dollars."

         There are several items that Robinson wants to spearhead over the next year, but two stuck out for him.

         "I'm for a new animal shelter, but the funding is a major issue," he said, before moving on to the next issue. "Public Works has kind of become more of a patching operation. We're doing a lot of road repairs, but a lot of roads need a complete rehabilitation. We need to do more. We've got to figure out a way to do what we need to do to get more roads repaired."

         The new animal shelter has become a hot topic after a volunteer showed up at the jury's last meeting asking jurors to consider building a new shelter. A petition circulated online received more than 2,000 signatures.

         "I got an email not every time someone signed it, but close," he said. "I got a whole lot of emails. But I like it. I'm encouraged to see that many people are getting behind it."

         Robinson has no problem talking about his political future, which he hopes to continue.

         "Honestly, I think most politicians might sidestep that issue, but I will be completely honest with you," he said. "State representative is what I would have my eye on next. That would be what I would consider. I'm not saying I would run for it, but that's something I would consider."

         Robinson said that if state Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, runs and wins re-election in 2015, he will consider running for that seat at the end of that term. Term limits would keep Hoffman from running.

         Robinson said he wants people to know he's a straightforward guy. His campaign materials included his personal cellphone number.

         "When people say, 'What are you about, Scotty?' I say, 'Getting involved,'" he said. "It can be hard, but even if it's something small, just get involved."

         – by AP/ Reporter Kaleb Causey with The News-Star

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