Stephen Waguespack: Engage in 2019


Only four teams remain alive in the NFL playoffs and our beloved Saints are thankfully one of them. This upcoming weekend the Dome will once again be rocking and the Who Dat Nation will be out in full force and ready to leave it all out on the field. While they do so, 28 other teams (and their respective fan bases) that have already been eliminated will be forced to sit idly by on the sidelines wondering what could have been.

Sitting on the sidelines is no fun when victory is at hand and championship glory is on the line. In those moments, you want to be in the action. You want to control your destiny. You want to be engaged.

Well, get used to that feeling Saints fans, because 2019 is a year that will require you to be constantly engaged long past the final snap of the football season—and on a topic even more important than the quest for another Lombardi Trophy.

The future of Louisiana is in play this fall and only you can decide the outcome. Don’t just sit on the sidelines. Let’s set the scene.

This fall, statewide elections will be held to vote on elected officials at all levels. The governor’s race is up, along with more than 60 open legislative seats, creating a level of opportunity and vulnerability we haven’t seen in quite some time. Ready or not, you as a voter will have to make some pretty big decisions this year and sitting this one out physically or mentally is simply not an option.

Louisiana, despite all its many good traits, has some very real challenges.

For two years in a row, we have lost more population than we have gained. We have the fifth highest unemployment level in the nation and our workforce participation levels are the lowest they have been since the 70’s. Government spending is up considerably over the last few years, though many of the challenges with our education system, economy and roads remain. Taxes have been raised by several billion dollars in only a few short years and, just as troubling, the application and collection of them is more complicated than ever. We need economic stability and more jobs for our people and our elected leaders must do better at providing that or stand aside to let someone else take a crack at it.

Perhaps that someone is you?

This fall, elected executive and legislative seats at the local and state level will be open around the state and the hunger for a new approach is growing. The alternative of sitting back and hoping that the entire same cast of characters will suddenly make big changes with one more term is a pipe dream. It’s time for some new people from the real world— rather than those who are simply a lifelong product of the political system—to take a turn. Again … why not you?

If you think you have interest in learning more about running for office, how to get started, the best way to brush up on important state policies and easy ways to get your message out, let us know. We at LABI are touring the state as we speak, alerting people from all walks of life about the importance of getting seriously involved at all levels in shaping the future of our state—and the relative ease it takes to do so. If you can work well with other people, run a small business, manage a checking account and stand with conviction, you are exactly the type of person Louisiana needs to step up. On the other hand, if you simply want to run for any office just to be a big shot using any power you can grab for personal gain, you need not apply.

If you can’t attend one of our local events, check out our website at for information on other ways to educate yourself on the big issues facing us all in 2019. Also, consider joining us next month at LABI’s Annual Meeting in Baton Rouge on Feb. 12 where you can meet elected officials and dedicated business folks from across the state as we share ideas and hear from two nationally respected speakers (Kristin Soltis Anderson and Scott Stratten) on critical topics like what drives millennial voters, what political trends will dominate 2019 and how businesses of all sizes can better connect with today’s employees and customers.

Without a doubt, due to term limits and the seriousness of our state’s challenges, 2019 is an enormous year in Louisiana’s electoral history. To put it simply, you could say this is our Super Bowl. To win, we all must take this one seriously and engage at a level like never before. That means learning about the specific issues facing Louisiana, demanding leaders old and new take a fresh approach and considering becoming one of those leaders yourself.

This year you can’t sit on the sidelines. This year you have to engage. Don’t let the rest of us on team Louisiana down.