LSU Political Science Associate Professor Belinda Davis has a picture of Rosie the Riveter drawn by her son framed on the wall next to the computer in her small office.
“This is what reminds me why I do everything I do,” Davis said. “We need more women in the legislature.”
Davis, a Democrat, is one of five candidates seeking election to the Louisiana House of Representatives to represent District 70.
Davis has taught political science at the University for 14 years. Before, she taught political science at Michigan State University. This semester, she is teaching two courses.
She was previously an evaluator of various Louisiana governmental services, including the Department of Social Services, the Department of Education and the Workforce Commission.
“They hired me to come in and investigate whether or not a policy is working the way it’s supposed to,” Davis said.
When the University offered Davis her job 14 years ago, she said she “jumped at the chance to come home.” Davis grew up in Baton Rouge and graduated from Baton Rouge High School. All of her family members live in Louisiana. She said it was important to her to move home and have the chance to raise her three boys where she grew up.
However, Davis said she’s become increasingly concerned that her boys wouldn’t be able to have the same opportunities she did because of the lackluster education funding in Louisiana. According to Davis, this was especially true under the Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.
“Quite frankly, the Republican party has not had the same dedication to investing in education,” Davis said. “I’m running as a Democrat to help the state reinvest in our youth.”
Education is an extremely important issue for Davis. She believes that investing in education, particularly early education, supports better outcomes for children, which will lead them to be more prepared for the workforce when they graduate.
Davis is also concerned about rising higher education tuition costs in Louisiana. As a professor, she has seen students who miss class to go to their jobs because if they don’t work, then they can’t pay for school.
“When your economic situation is forcing you to work in a way that interferes with your ability to concentrate on your classes, we need to be thinking critically about higher education funding,” Davis said.
The opioid epidemic in Louisiana also concerns Davis. Louisiana doctors wrote 89.5 opioid prescriptions per every 100 persons in 2017, well above the national average of 58.7, according to the National Institution on Drug Abuse. While that number was one of the highest in the US, it was actually a historic low for Louisiana.
Davis believes better oversight of prescriptions is needed.
“There is no believable explanation for why there would be a legitimate need for 89 prescriptions written for every 100 Louisiana residents,” Davis said.
Better oversight of prescriptions is something Davis believes needs to happen on a national level. On a state level, she’s more concerned about training people how to handle overdoses, particularly on college campuses.
“I think that it would be great for LSU to be the pilot university for implementing a program like that,” Davis said.
She believes having life-saving medications that can stop an opioid overdose should be in every residence hall.
Davis said she is excited about running so she can be a voice for education and educators in the state legislature.
Louisiana’s primary election is on Oct. 12 and the general election is on Nov. 16.