This article is paid for by Kevin Pearson, candidate for the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
Throughout his life, Kevin Pearson has been active in his community. He was president of the Slidell Rotary Club and a board member of the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce, Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center and Leadership Northshore. But he had never truly considered politics until 2007.
That year, Pearson’s daughter was a high school senior who had her eye on attending LSU. Pearson was proud, but he knew Louisiana ranked at the bottom of most national lists that ranked education, the economy and quality of life.
“I just kept thinking that my daughter was going to go to LSU, get a degree and then move to Texas to get a job,” Pearson recalled. “We were seeing it time and time again. We provide a good education, then that person moves to places where they can get jobs paying a considerable amount more than what we had in Louisiana. That really stuck with me.”
At the same time, several of Pearson’s friends and colleagues urged him to consider running for a seat in the state Legislature. Pearson took their encouragement as a sign that he should throw his hat in the ring. He did so as a latecomer, but made it to the runoff, where he won by 50 votes.
That sparked a career in which Pearson served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 2008 to 2019. During that time, he was appointed chairman of the House State Retirement Committee. He also was a member of the Louisiana Republican Legislative Delegation and Louisiana Rural Caucus.
Now, Pearson is shifting gears and is running for the District 1 seat on the Louisiana Public Service Commission. If elected, Pearson said some of his key goals include working to provide safe and affordable utilities for all residents, expand broadband Internet access across the state, work with companies to provide more wind and solar utility services and ensure that all utilities are able to respond quickly to service outages and natural disasters.
“The people deserve a representative who stands up for them,” Pearson said. “The companies are entitled to make a profit. There’s no question about that. But we need to look at some of the policies to make sure the citizens’ utility bills aren’t going through the roof. I believe the companies may have had more representation than the individuals. I think there is a balance that is needed and I think I can help bring that to the PSC.”
Pearson said he wants to work with utility companies, but will not be swayed by them. He said he will not take campaign contributions before or after the election from any company that the PSC regulates.
“If we regulate them, I don’t want to be influenced,” he said.
Rather, Pearson said he would approach his PSC role by evaluating each issue on its merits and hearing from all sides before making final decisions. One topic he expects the PSC to evaluate in the future is the use of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Pearson said he has already spoken to some utility company officials who are excited about the possibilities of these relatively new forms of power, which are often cheaper and more environmentally-friendly.
“It’s probably safe to say that solar energy and some of the other alternatives will become more prevalent and more adoptable, just because of the cost,” he said. “I’m not against oil and gas by any means. I just would like consumers to have more of a choice when it comes to their utilities.”
Pearson said another objective is to ensure that high-speed Internet is more widely available, especially in Louisiana’s rural areas. He noted that the Internet has become more of a necessity as schools offer virtual learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had a lady come up to me from South Plaquemines High School. She was telling me how some students there have to come to the school and park there at night to use the Internet and do their homework,” Pearson recalled. “Kids shouldn’t have to sit in a parking lot to get the Internet. I think that in 2020, it’s part of our educational responsibility to see that everyone has broadband. If an education now requires this, we need to make sure every single student has it.”
Pearson said his lengthy experience in the Legislature has taught him not only the process of getting bills successfully passed, but about the importance of relationships and treating others with respect. If elected, Pearson said he wants to help bring civility to PSC meetings, which have sometimes turned contentious. Whether he is elected to the PSC or not, Pearson said he wants to work to have all of the commission’s meetings broadcast live online and archived for later viewing. As a legislator, Pearson brought and helped pass a similar bill for meetings of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“The biggest lessons I’ve learned are to work with people, have respect for them and work for the good of the people,” he said. “You have to show up and talk to people yourself and help them understand where you’re coming from. You have to listen. I’m not just there to bring home money for Slidell. I’m there to represent my district and help my constituents, but the goal needs to be to improve the state and move Louisiana forward.”
For more information on Kevin Pearson, visit www.votekevinpearson.com.