Chris Hazel

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Lowell Christopher "Chris" Hazel

Division B Judge of the Louisiana
9th Judicial District Court
Incumbent
Assumed office 
December 2018
Preceded by Thomas Yeager

Louisiana State Representative for District 27 (Rapides Parish)
In office
January 2008 – December 2018
Preceded by Rick Lamar Farrar
Succeeded by Michael T. Johnson

Born January 25, 1965
Monroe, Louisiana

Reared in New Orleans

Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Karen Frances Centanni Hazel
Children Sydney and Brik Hazel
Residence Ball in Rapides Parish noth of Pineville
Alma mater Holy Cross High School in New Orleans

University of New Orleans
Thomas M. Colley Law School in Lansing, Michigan

Occupation Attorney; Judge
Religion Episcopalian
Note:
  • Chris Hazel is only the second Republican ever to hold the District 27 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives. He is only the third member of his party in modern times to represent Rapides Parish in the state House, the others having been the late Jock Scott, who served as a Republican from neighboring District 26 from 1985 to 1988, and Randy Wiggins, the District 27 representative from 1996 to 2000, who left the House after an unsuccessful challenge in 1999 to State Senator Joe McPherson.

Lowell Christopher Hazel, known as Chris Hazel (born January 25, 1965) is an attorney and judge of the 9th Judicial District Court, based in Alexandria, Louisiana. Earlier from 2008 to 2018, he was a Republican state representative for District 27, which encompasses Pineville and northern Rapides Parish. The seat is now held by another Republican, Michael T. Johnson, not to be confused with Mike Johnson, U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 4th congressional district.

Background

Though he was born in Monroe in Ouachita Parish in northeastern Louisiana, Hazel was reared in New Orleans and graduated in 1983 from the Roman Catholic Holy Cross High School. He served in the United States Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms, California. He was a Lyndon B. Johnson intern for Democrat U.S. Representative Lindy Boggs, then of Louisiana's 2nd congressional district. In 1990, Hazel received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of New Orleans. He attended the Border Patrol training institute at Artesia, New Mexico. From 1992 to 1997, he was a Border Patrol agent at the Chula Vista station in San Diego, California. In 1997, he entered the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, at which he earned his Juris Doctorate degree in 2000. After law school, he returned to Louisiana at the age of thirty-five to begin a legal career.[1]

He is a member of the Louisiana Bar and the Louisiana District Attorney's associations, the American Legioin, Kiwanis International, the Amerita Club, the Rapides/Pineville Soccer Association, and the National Rifle Association. He is a vestry member at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Pineville. He is married to the former Karen Frances Centanni; the couple has two children, Sydney and Brik.[1] The Hazels reside in Ball north of Pineville.

Legal career

From 2004 to 2007, Hazel was an assistant district attorney in Alexandria. From 2003 to 2004, he was the assistant D.A. in neighboring Grant Parish. From 2000 to 2002, he was a law clerk for 9th Judicial District Judge Tom Yeager in Alexandria.[8]

In 2018, Hazel won the election to choose a successor upon the retirement of Judge Yeager.

Election history

In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007, Hazel unseated Democratic state Representative Rick Lamar Farrar (1960-2018) of Pineville, 9,330 votes (62.5 percent) to 5,611 (37.5 percent).[2] Farrar had first won the seat in the primary held on October 19, 1991, when he upset fellow Democrat Carl Newton Gunter, Jr. (1938-1999), 7,729 (56.6 percent) to 5,929 (43.4 percent).[3] Gunter had been known for his populist political stance and his outspoken opposition to abortion.[4] Farrar was narrowly unseated for the 1996-2000 term by the Republican Randy Eugene Wiggins of Pineville, a State Farm insurance agent in Alexandria. On October 6, 1995, Wiggins defeated Farrar, 6,350 votes (51.1 percent) to 6,077 (48.9 percent).[5] When Wiggins ran for the state Senate in 1999 against former Senator Joe McPherson, who did not run in 1995, Farrar staged a successful return to the House seat. In the 2003 primary, Farrar handily defeated the Independent "Pete" Ferrington,, 7,072 (61 percent) to 4,519 (39 percent). [6]

Randy Wiggins, meanwhile, challenged the second-term reelection of Hazel in the primary held on October 22, 2011, but Hazel handily defeated the former representative, 8,089 votes (60.8 percent) to 5,220 votes (39.2 percent). [7]

Legislative tenure

Hazel served on these House committees: Administration of Criminal Justice; Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development; Homeland Security; Joint Capital Outlay; Military and Veterans Affairs; Ways and Means; and Executive (chairman). [9]

His first bill, HB 148, passed in the 2008 legislative session. It "adds the intentional manufacturing, purchasing, distributing, or attempting to manufacture, purchase, or distribute a controlled dangerous substance in violation of the CDS law in the presence of a minor child as an element of the crime of cruelty to a juvenile." [10]

In March 2008, Hazel introduced HB 303 to authorize former employees of district attorneys and assistant district attorneys to retain their retirement benefits if they become re-employed at a salary less than provided under existing state law. The measure would not apply to Hazel, for he had only four years of such service. as an assistant district attorney. [11]

Hazel introduced HB 40 in the 2008 session to help police crack down on prostitution by broadening the legal definition of "sexual intercourse" to include "oral, anal or vaginal" contact. Hazel said that his measure would "close loopholes" so that defense attorneys could not argue over the nuances of sexual relations in certain instances.[12] Despite ridicule from numerous bloggers, Hazel's bill was signed into law by Republican then Governor Bobby Jindal on June 12, 2008. [13]

Hazel was rated in 2013 and 2014 as 90 percent favorable by the conservative Louisiana Family Forum; the organization scored him 75 percent in 2010. Louisiana Right to Life scored him 100 percent for each year that he has been a legislator. The Louisiana Association of Educators rates him 50 percent. He is ranked from 64 to 78 percent by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry; in 2012, the National Federation of Independent Business scored him 50 percent. [14]

In 2014, Hazel co-sponsored the requirement that abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges near their clinics; the bill was approved by the full House, 88-5. In 2014, he voted against extending the time for implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He voted to prohibit the transportation of dogs in the beds of pick-up trucks while traveling on interstate highways; the measure passed the House, 53-34. He voted to require that companies must give notice when they engage in hydraulic fracking; the measure failed, 19-73. He voted for the repeal of the anti-sodomy laws; the repea marijuanaailed, 22-67. He voted to authorize surrogacy contracts. He opposed reducing the penalties for the possession of marijuana. He voted to establish lifetime concealed carry gun permits and supported concealed-carry privileges in restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages. He voted against making information about permit holders a matter of public record. He voted in 2013 for an increase in judicial pay and supported the removal of the mandatory retirement age for state judges. [15]

In 2012, Hazel voted to ban the use of cellular phones while driving; the measure passed the House, 68-29. He voted against providing tax incentives for attracting a National Basketball Association team to Louisiana but supported state income tax deductions for individuals who contribute to scholarship funds. He voted to reduce the number of hours that polling locations remain open; Louisiana has traditionally had 14-hour polling days. He co-sponsored the requirement for drug testing of certain welfare recipients, which passed the House, 65-26. He supported changes in the teacher tenure law. In 2011, Hazel voted for a permanent tax on cigarettes and opposed the establishment of a commission to consider ways to remove the state income tax. He voted against the anti-bullying measure which proponents claimed would address the problem in public schools; the measure failed 43-54. [15]

Losing race for district attorney

In April 2014, Hazel confirmed that he would run for Rapides Parish District Attorney in the primary election held on November 4. The long-term incumbent, Jam Downs, a Democrat and son of the late C. H. "Sammy" Downs and nephew of J. Earl Downs, retired after fourteen years as the DA. Hazel finished a strong second in the primary to Pineville City Judge Phillip Terrell, a Democrat. He polled 15,001 votes (34.6 percent) to Terrell's 15,245 (35.2 percent). The third candidate, Democratic former state Representative Christopher Roy, Jr., the brother of former Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy, trailed with 13,081 votes (30.2 percent).[16] In the runoff election held on December 6, Terrell defeated Hazel, 20,053 votes (52.9 percent) to 17,840 (47.1 percent). [17]

2015 legislative campaign

Hazel won a third term in the state House in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 24, 2015. He defeated another Republican candidate, businessman Christopher Dean "Chris" Tyler (born April 1973) of Pineville,[18] [19] 6,342 votes (64.9 percent) to 3,425 (35.1 percent).[20] Defeated candidate Tyler is an Alexandria native who attended Pineville High School and graduated from LSU and Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. [21]

Entering his third and final term in the House in 2016, Hazel supported Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards choice of the liberal lawmaker, Walt Leger, III, of New Orleans for Speaker of the state House.[22] However, in an upset, lawmakers chose not Leger as Speaker but the Republican Taylor Barras of New Iberia. [23] a more conservative representative who vacates the House in January 2020.

Election as judge

In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on November 6, 2018, in conjunction with congressional elections, Hazel won the Division B judgeship on the 9th Judicial District Court. He defeated attorney Charles David Elliott (born August 27, 1962) and assumed the office in December 2018. [24] Then in a special election in 2019, Michael T. Johnson was elected to fill the ten months remaining in Hazel's legislative term.

References

1. Representative's Personal Page House.legis.state.la.us1., March 25, 2009; no longer on-line.
2. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary Election Returns, October 20, 2007
3. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary Election Returns, October 19, 1991.
4. Who was Carl Gunter, Jr.?, Biographies.net [1], accessed August 16, 2019.
5. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary Election returns, October 21, 1995.
6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary Election returns, October 4, 2003.
7. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary Election returns, October 22, 2011.
8. Chris Hazel Biography, Clshrm.org . April 25, 2009; website no longer on-line.
9. Chris Hazel's Biography. Project Vote Smart. May 27, 2015.
10. Rep. Chris Hazel Passes His First Bill in the House. CentralLaPolitics.blogspot.com. April 25, 2009 [2], accessed July 8, 2011.
11. Questions About Chris Hazel’s (R-Pineville) HB 303 and Herbert Dixon’s (D-Alexandria) HB344. CenLamar.com. April 25, 2009.
12. The Gambit: Chris Hazel’s Prostitution Legislation, Lamar White, Cenlamar.com. April 27, 2009.
13. The Web Portal to the Louisiana State Legislature: HB40 - 2008 Regular Session (Ac, 138), Legis.state.la.us, April 28, 2009.
14. Lowell "Chris" Hazel's Ratings and Endorsements, Project Vote Smart, May 27, 2015.
15. Lowell "Chris" Hazel's Voting Records, Project Vote Smart, May 27, 2015.
16. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 4, 2014, primary.
17. Louisiana Secretary of State, General Election Returns, December 6, 2014.
18. Christopher Tyler, April 1973. Louisiana Secretary of State Voter Portal. September 10, 2015.
19. Richard P. Sharkey, "Qualifying Update, The Alexandria Town Talk, September 10, 2015.
20. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary Eledction Returns, October 24, 2015.
21. Richard P. Sharkey, "Chris Tyler announces candidacy in House District 27," The Alexandria Town Talk,. June 28, 2015.
22. The Moon Griffon Show, December 17, 2015.
23. The Moon Griffon Show, January 11, 2016.
24. "See who has qualified for local elections," The Alexandria Town Talk, July 18, 2018.