Monroe Teacher & Community Advocate Alicia Calvin Being Blocked in Louisiana HD-16 Race by Another Woman – State Senator Katrina Jackson

Well-respected Monroe community advocate Alicia “Cocoa” McCoy Calvin is running to fill an open seat (HD-16) in the November 9, 2021 elections. Usually races in North Louisiana aren’t of much interest to New Orleans residents. This one should be. New Orleans progressives like Victoria Coy are speaking out that Calvin is getting a raw deal from prominent State Senator Katrina Jackson, who once held the seat Calvin is now seeking.

A lawyer and former chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, Jackson came to fame for successfully passing an onerous piece of anti-abortion legislation. She served in the state house for eight years before replacing term-limited former State Senator Francis Thompson (SD-34) in 2020. Jackson is currently considering a run for Governor of Louisiana in 2023 on an anti-abortion platform. 

Jackson has whole-heartedly endorsed one of Calvin’s opponents – a controversial but well-connected Monroe-based businessman named Adrian Fisher. Calvin has positioned herself as a candidate of the people whose vote cannot be bought. She is also known for working on issues important to women. Calvin’s supporters believe that Jackson chose Fisher because he is part of the old guard – the same good ole boy network that has run politics in Monroe for decades.  Bishop Charles Henry Bradford of Bastrop also qualified for the race. The seat includes Morehouse and Quachita parishes.

Currently an English teacher at Carroll Jr. High School in Monroe, Calvin hails from a family, the McCoys, with a long history of service in the community. Calvin, 38, received a B.A. in Political Science from LSU and was president of the local NAACP.  She worked to support an African-American studies program at LSU and to recruit people of color to the university.

Calvin is a graduate of former President Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” program that provided political training to people of color. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 2006 to work as Assistant Director and Coordinator of Research for Donna Brazile at the Democratic National Committee. She worked for former U.S. Representative Charles Melancon in Louisiana’s Third Congressional District. 

In her work for former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, she focused on building diversity, equity and inclusion throughout Congress. She was a staffer with the D.C. democratic admen Mark Putnam and Steve Smith who produced President Obama’s thirty-eight minute special, which aired in primetime during the 2008 campaign. She was also a legislative researcher with the Congressional Quarterly. A graduate of Emerge Louisiana political training program for women leaders, she is currently participating in Leadership Louisiana, a highly respected program sponsored by the Council For A Better Louisiana (CABL). 

This is Calvin’s third campaign for elected office. She first ran for the HD-16 seat in 2019 and lost to Fred Jones, the son of former State Senator C.D. Jones. Fred Jones was recently elected to the bench at the Fourth Judicial District Court. Calvin also ran for the Monroe City Council in 2020.

“Once I moved back to Monroe I started seeing things in the community I wanted to work on. My votes will reflect the will of the people,” said Calvin. “Answers to community problems come from the ground up. I am the only woman in the race.” Calvin intends to focus on education, economic and industrial development and building a skilled workforce for new good-paying jobs. She feels that more people earning a living wage would help bring down crime, which has been on an uptick. She also wants to support other small businesses.

Calvin has developed a network in New Orleans through Emerge Louisiana, the Louisiana Democratic Party and the Legislative Agenda for Women. “I hope that some of my friends in New Orleans will contribute to my campaign,” said Calvin. A local fundraising event for Calvin is being planned by Coy and others. 

A licensed counselor, Fisher owns a statewide behavioral health agency that provides services in 24 parishes. Founded as the Cognitive Development Center of Monroe Inc (CDCMI), Fisher claimed in a release announcing his candidacy that he has more than 600 employees and a $24 million payroll. Fisher holds an accounting degree from Southern University and a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. 

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s business filings, Fisher is listed as an owner or agent on numerous active records including Cognitive Development Center of Monroe, Inc. (CDCMI), LCM Financial Inc., Fisher Management & Investment, LLC, and Venture Distributors, LLC.  According to the same database he previously also played an ownership role in Premiere Family Services, Inc., LCM Construction & Development, Inc., CDC Adrian Transportation Services, Inc., Brighter Pathways Counseling Center, Cognitive Development Center of the River Parishes, Adams Street Development Partners, LLC, and Adams Street Senior Independent Living, LLC.    

Fisher started CDCMI in 2003 as a 50-50 partnership with Billy Foster. After a 2006 disagreement on how to manage the company, Fisher made changes to the business and literally locked Foster out of the building.  

The subsequent lawsuit Foster filed, which sought damages and liquidation of the company, was allotted to Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Carl Sharp of Monroe, an Alpha Psi Alpha fraternity brother of Fisher’s. Foster’s attorney James “Jim” Rountree tried to recuse Sharp for allegedly having a “close, personal relationship” with Fisher. The judge indicated he knew Fisher’s name but would not have been able to point him out, even though they were fraternity brothers and photographed together at events.   

Rountree also claimed that Fisher or a company he owned had been seen doing work at Sharp’s home and that the pair had been seen together at restaurants in the Monroe area as well as at Home Depot.  Sharp and Fisher did not attend college during the same years. 

Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Daniel Ellender ruled that Sharp could continue to hear the lawsuit. After having the case under advisement for two years, Sharp suddenly retired from the bench mid-term before rendering a judgement. A new judge assigned to the case, Marcus Hunter, quickly ruled on Fisher’s behalf.  The appeals court concurred in most of Hunter’s ruling. According to the Quachita Citizen, in 2003 the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Sharp for 60 days for failing to issue a judgment in five separate cases and failed to accurately report those cases to the court.  

Fisher calls himself an average person who is wanting to give back. He believes he can find common ground with everyone and has pledged, if elected, to work on economic development as well as improving equity and access to mental health care. 

State Senator Jackson, 43, has called abortion “a modern-day genocide.” The legislation she authored, Act 620, would force Louisiana’s abortion providers to have permitting privileges at a local hospital. The law has not gone into effect because of a court case challenging it. Jackson has twice been a popular speaker at national anti-abortion rallies in Washington, D.C.  

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld an unusual piece of anti-abortion legislation passed in Texas, SB 8, which bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. Women from across East Texas and beyond are flocking to Shreveport’s Hope Medical Group For Women. Abortions are also available in New Orleans at the Women’s Health Care Center and in Baton Rouge.

Earlier this week, Florida legislators introduced a restrictive abortion bill that mirrors the controversial Texas law. Friday, The House of Representatives voted 218-211 – largely along party lines – to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. It would provide protection of abortion services and preempt many of the restrictive practices Republicans have been able to enact at the state level.

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