|Thomas Taylor Townsend|
Louisiana State Representative
for District 23 (Natchitoches
and Winn parishes)
2000 – January 14, 2008
|Preceded by||Jimmy D. Long|
|Succeeded by||Rick Nowlin|
|Born|| July 5, 1963|
|Spouse(s)||Gina E. Goings Kelly|
|Relations|| Don Kelly (uncle)|
|Alma mater|| Northwestern State University
Southern University Law School (Baton Rouge)
Townsend was a son of William Lloyd Townsend, Jr., and the former Dorothy "Dot" Kelly (1932-2020), later Dorothy Holladay, the wife for thirty-eight years of Robert B. Holladay. Dorothy was a teacher prior to 1979 at the former Coushatta High School in Coushatta in Red River Parish. She then became a recruiter for Northwestern State University and owned The Village Ladies & Childrens Shop in Natchitoches. His great-great-grandfather was the first judge in Red River Parish. His grandparents were John Kenneth Kelly (1909-1998) and the former Imogene Mangham (1912-2000). Kelly of Coushatta.
Townsend received a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches and a Juris Doctorate from historically black Southern University Law School in the capital city of Baton Rouge. Admitted to the bar in 1990, Townsend specializes in consumer class actions, criminal defense, civil suits, and personal injury cases.
In the 1999 nonpartisan blanket primary, Townsend narrowly upset veteran Democratic state Representative Jimmy Dale Long, Sr. (1931-2016), a Natchitoches businessman and member of the Long political dynasty who had served consecutively in the House since 1968. Townsend prevailed, 7,643 votes (51 percent) to Long's 7,447 votes (49 percent). The defeat was stunning in that Long had been unopposed in 1995. Long was apparently the last member of his political family to have held public office in Louisiana until 2008, when Long's younger brother, Gerald Long of Natchitoches, won a state senate seat by defeating Taylor Townsend. Considered an authority on secondary and higher education planning and funding, Jimmy Long was earlier named one of the 100 most significant people in the 20th century history in North Louisiana by The Shreveport Times newspaper.
In the 2007 primary, Townsend did not seek a third term but instead ran for the open state Senate seat which had been held by his uncle from 1976 to 1996. The Democratic incumbent, Kenneth Michael "Mike" Smith of Winnfield, who was ineligible to seek a fourth term. In a surprising turn of events, Townsend was defeated by Gerald Long, the first Long family member elected to office in Louisiana as a Republican. Long procured 20,609 votes (54 percent) to Townsend's 17,699 (46 percent) and won five of the six parishes in the district, losing only Natchitoches, the home of both candidates. He even won in tiny Red River Parish, one of only two North Louisiana parishes that did not support Republican Governor Bobby Jindal in the October 20 primary.
In addition to Townsend's defeat for the state Senate, the Natchitoches Republican Rick Nowlin was elected to the House seat that Townsend had vacated. He defeated former Mayor Joe Sampite', a Natchitoches Democrat. The Long and Nowlin victories marked the first time since Reconstruction that Natchitoches Parish had been represented by Republicans in either house of the state legislature. Nowlin, defeated in a revised district in 2011, thereafter served two terms as the first president of Natchitoches Parish.
In 2014, Townsend represented Walter Clyde Lee, Sr. (born 1934), then an elected member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education who pleaded not guilty in state district court in Mansfield to four criminal charges stemming from alleged overbilling of travel expenditures. He was accused of billing for expenses from both BESE and his former employer, the DeSoto Parish School Board, for whom he had been the superintendent.
- Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on June 3, 2020.
- Dorothy Holladay obituary. The Shreveport Times (June 1, 2020). Retrieved on June 3, 2020.
- Thomas Taylor Townsend: Law Profile. martindale.com. Retrieved on November 25, 2019.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 23, 1999.
- Membership in the Louisiana Senate, 1880-2020 (See Natchitoches Parish: Gerald Long). Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on November 25, 2019.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 20, 2007.
- BESE member Walter Lee pleads not guilty. The Washington Times (March 5, 2014). Retrieved on November 25, 2019.