This fall’s political season seems to be shaping up early.

With qualifying for local elections set next week, some candidates have started early by posting signs.

So far, we’re seeing most of the action in the state representative race and the St. Mary Parish assessor’s race.

Sherel Martin, who announced recently that he will be ending 12 years of service as parish assessor will not be seeking a fourth term.

First out of the gate was Morgan City’s Jarrod Longman, followed quickly by this end’s Wayne Breaux, mayor of Baldwin. Both have signs popping up all over the place, with the promise of an interesting race to come.

State representative electioneering is also heating up, with the District 50 seat being vacated by Jack Smith of Stephensville contested now between Sam Jones, Allen McElroy and Kenny Scelfo.

Despite an accident last weekend, Scelfo pledges he’s still in the race and will be continuing to campaign.

McElroy and Jones are also making the rounds. It should prove to be the most interesting of the October races.

We’ve also got parish president and council elections in the fall, along with all other parish offices such as sheriff, clerk of court, and so forth. So far, on this end of the parish anyway, I’ve seen that Russell Boykin is throwing his hat in the ring again for the at-large District 9 seat against incumbent Albert Foulcard, and David Hanagriff has signs out for single-member District 3 being vacated by term-limited Michael Domingue.

Not saying that’s all that’s out there, but that’s what I’ve seen myself up to this writing.

Now, my personal conviction is that after qualifying ends next week, I tend to sit back and let events unfurl as they will without my editorial input until the election.

However, that does not mean incumbents get a free pass: Any silliness goes on ‘twixt now and the election, and I’m on it like gravy on rice, ya folla?

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I am hopeful the next term of elected officials – new membership or not – will make St. Mary Parish move forward after two decades of virtual stasis. It was disheartening to note last week that of all the Acadiana and regional parishes, only St. Mary posted a loss of jobs.

With a 4.3 jobless rate in St. Mary, it’s difficult to understand how such things happen as Iberia Parish posts a 3.7 percent rate, St. Martin a 3.8 percent rate, Lafourche Parish was 2.8 percent and Terrebonne Parish was at 2.9 percent. Throw in Vermilion Parish at 3.9 percent and Lafayette Parish at 2.9 percent, and you see that we here in St. Mary are sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb.

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I’d like to mention that it might provide a source of pride within our residency as well, if the lettering on the front of the courthouse in Franklin read "St. Mary Parish Courthouse" rather than "t. Mary Courthouse." Been that way for years, you know, and I guess it’ll be that way for years more unless somebody speaks up about it. Consider it spoken-up about. I also noticed this morning that the "r" in "Mary" is leaning decidedly, as if it's about to take a plunge too.

It should be an easy fix, but even if it isn’t, it goes a long way toward showing residents and visitors alike that we care about the face we put forward in St. Mary Parish.

Looks like part of one of the lampposts on the sign at Franklin City Hall snapped off, too. An easy fix, to be sure.

We won’t be taken seriously, until we take ourselves seriously.

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I had the pleasure of attending the Art Guild Unlimited purchase awards affair at its Everette Street Gallery in Morgan City this week.

My friend and collaborator Gary Drinkwater invited me to schmooze with his art friends and I thoroughly enjoyed the company, even got to see a few old familiar faces while I was there.

There were 604 pieces of art on display, and much of it will be on display at the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival this weekend through Tuesday. Do yourself a favor, if you like art, go see it! I was not surprised at the quality: We have talented people in this parish by the gazillions.

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Let’s close this out with a little irony.

Our president, who gets up in front of the television to espouse freedom, democracy and liberty for such places as Iraq, can’t stand for people to listen to him speak if they’re quietly and non-disruptively wearing T-shirts bearing message such as "Regime Change Begins At Home" or the word "Bush" and a circle with a slash through it over the word. Such people were banned from a Charleston, W. Va., Independence Day speech. Not just banned, but handcuffed and arrested. A suit followed, which was settled this week for $80,000 and the government admitting it "did no wrong."

When the prez returned to Charleston in 2006 for a fundraiser, protestors lined a bridge where the motorcade would pass. The Secret Service demanded the city remove them, but the mayor, a Republican, refused. A compromise was reached where the protestors got reasonable access and the motorcade crossed.

So…what was it we are fighting for in Iraq again? Freedom? Democracy? Liberty?