The two candidates for state representative in District 51 say tax reform, infrastructure and coastal protection are some of their biggest priorities.

The seat is now represented by Beryl Amedee, who is running for her second four-year term. She is being challenged by former Terrebonne Parish Councilman Clayton Voisin.

District 51 covers western Terrebonne, including Gibson, Schriever, Dularge, Grand Caillou, and part of north Lafourche and Morgan City.

The election is Oct. 12, with early voting Sept. 28 to Oct. 5.

Here are the candidates’ answers to The Courier and Daily Comet’s campaign questionnaire. Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What would be your top three legislative priorities, if elected?

Amedee: I love Louisiana and I want the people who call it home to be able to live here always. Protecting and restoring our coast is at the top of my list because if we don’t, we will all have to relocate. Next, we need tax and spending reform. Our tax structure and budget volatility is keeping us from being competitive with our neighboring states. When businesses leave, people leave. When jobs are readily available, only those who have sufficient education and training will fill them, so my next priority is education. It’s time we use proven learning standards and set teachers free to teach again. High school diplomas and college degrees should be evidence of marketable job skills.

Voisin: To acquire a bayou region DOTD office separate from the New Orleans district, where we would have equipment and manpower dedicated to state highways and bridges in a four-parish-area. Begin to acquire additional money for education and training, flood protection, economic development and infrastructure. And lead a coalition from our region to fight for flood protection, working closely with local officials.

Why would you be the best representative for your district?

Amedee: I am already doing the job. My voting record has been consistent, a better-than-average percentage of infrastructure projects in our district are funded, and I have goals for more improvements in this next term.

Voisin: I am a lifelong resident of Terrebonne, I have acquired all the skills and experience through my business background and my public service. I am ready, willing, and able to serve. The big PAC money and lobbyists do not own me, and I will never be their all-star, but I will be my constituents' most valuable public servant.

What are your views on tax reform? What would you like to see changed, if anything.

Amedee: For individuals, I would like to see a flat tax that eliminates the 2% tax bracket and reduces the 6% bracket to 4%. This would exempt the first $17,000 in income for individuals or $34,000 for couples, and above that the rate would be 4% for everyone. Simpler. Fairer. I would also like to eliminate the corporate franchise tax. It’s a big part of what makes our tax structure complex, which makes neighboring states more appealing to businesses. We should also lower and flatten the corporate income tax rate.

Voisin: Streamlining both the constitution and tax structure to make them more manageable. I would consider looking at the Stelly Plan and consider incorporating parts of it. There should never be any cuts to health, education or the elderly.

BP settlement money has supported much of the state's efforts for coastal restoration and protection. When that money runs out, how should the state pay for and address coastal issues, particularly those in Terrebonne and Lafourche?

Amedee: We should continue to press Congress for federal funding, especially for Morganza-to-the-Gulf, since they haven’t chipped in yet. We must continue to reduce costs by finding smart, creative ways to do what is necessary, like allowing a road to serve as a redundant levee and fighting for fair mitigation requirements. We should not have to meet standard mitigation ratios on a coastal restoration project. We have to fight to protect settlement money that is earmarked for the coast so it doesn’t get redirected elsewhere. We have to face the reality that BP money is temporary, so it should be treated like lagniappe, not recurring. Costs of coastal work must be worked into the budget like other ongoing expenses.

Voisin: Its time for the feds to pick up the tab for our coastal issues. For generations, Louisiana has furnished the country with low-cost gas and oil through miles of pipelines. All the while, they are high and dry, while we are left with the worst coastal issues in the world. It's time to pay the piper; I have a plan.

How should the state address its growing and costly infrastructure needs?

Amedee: We can start by restricting Transportation Trust Fund so it is only used for construction, not personnel costs. Twenty-five percent of statate Department of Transportation and Development employees will reach retirement in the next two to three years. We have a prime opportunity to consider restructuring the department. I would like to push the Army Corps of Engineers to allow local governments more authority to do their own dredging. We should allow local governments more flexibility to consider tolls as an option to get certain projects off the waiting list.

Voisin: Like a business, do more with less. We must better manage our resources and manpower. Who has not passed a state project on a highway and seen a dozen employees standing around and maybe one are two working? I would not allow it in my business, and I won't allow it in the state's. Equipment -- same thing, brought to job sites and never used.

This Legislature will have a chance to influence how legislative and congressional district boundaries are redrawn after the 2020 census. Would you propose or support any major changes to the current district lines?

Amedee: The major change I will propose is to use common sense. It’s obvious that some districts are hopelessly complicated or impractical. Why do we have a congressional district that runs from Monroe to just north of Covington?

Voisin: I would support changes that aid our constituents. I have served on the Parish Council and had the privilege of working on parishwide redistricting in 2001 and 2011, serving as chairman of the latter. I will be able to share valuable experience with my colleagues in the House and Senate.

What is your position on proposed legislation to give fishermen the right to traverse private waterways in coastal marshes?

Amedee: Louisiana has the greatest private property protections of any state, and I would not want to change that. I also believe natural resources cannot be privately owned. As a member of the task force actively working on this issue, I am looking for a way to protect landowners’ rights to private property, as well as mineral rights, while protecting them from liability claims and allowing public access to the waters of the Gulf, rivers and bayous and the seafood that lives there. If we can’t do that, Louisiana will no longer be the Sportsman’s Paradise.

Voisin: Waterways with free-flowing tides, that allow fish and shrimp to enter and leave, should be open to fishermen. I believe that free-flowing water is public and accessible. I am under the understanding that the court says differently, and I would not suggest that anyone break any laws. There are ways to have these issues readdressed by the courts.