Three qualify for Johns’ vacated Senate seat

The American Press | Crystal Stevenson, Jul 30, 2021

Three men qualified this week to fill the unexpired term of state Sen. Ronnie Johns.

Small business owner Dustin Granger, Stine Lumber marketing director Jeremy Stine and educator Jake Shaheen have all announced their candidacies.

Johns resigned from the District 27 seat he has held since 2012 last week in order to accept an appointment from Gov. John Bel Edwards as chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

Granger, a graduate of Sulphur High School, is a financial planner “helping regular working families be financially secure.”

That foundation became a lifeline for so many families following Hurricane Laura, he said in a statement to the American Press

“My friends and my family live here and they’ve seen enough suffering. We all deserve a state senator that is focused on their success, and I’ve proven I’m that person day in and day out,” Granger said. “One year out from 

Hurricane Laura, we cannot afford a senator that is compromised by special interests. Only someone who is truly fighting for our families should have this job.”

Granger, a Democrat, and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of two girls, Mireille and Inès. 

“Our region needs an unprecedented comeback and that’s about more than one-time dollars. I will build on the legacy of Sen. Johns, fighting for our values and our families,” Granger said. “I’ll fight for increased investments in education, infrastructure, law enforcement and smart policies that bring our tax dollars home.”

Granger said he won’t be “soft on the industries that stand between us and financial security.” 

“Too many families have been robbed by insurance companies. And that’s because too many ‘leaders’ are in the pocket of those who profit from our struggles,” he said. “That stops when I get to Baton Rouge.” 

Stine, a Calcasieu Parish native and a Republican, announced his candidacy on Monday. He mentioned the strength Calcasieu residents have shown in the face of Hurricanes Laura and Delta, both of which made landfall last year.

“As a community, our strength was tested, but we rallied together to selflessly serve one another,” he said. “I’ve been in the trenches with you, and I’m ready to continue fighting for our community in Baton Rouge. It’s time to usher in a new generation of leadership that will do what is right for our community and fight to rebuild Calcasieu Parish better than ever.”

While in college, Stine worked as a legislative aide to the Jefferson Parish delegation in the state Legislature. After graduating from LSU, he worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate, helping Southwest Louisiana recover after Hurricane Rita’s 2005 landfall. 

Shaheen is a graduate of McNeese State University and has worked in both Cameron and Calcasieu parish schools, as well as the U.S. Post Office in Iowa, La. He is a math teacher at Hackberry High School. 

“I am absolutely in love with that place,” he said. “The people there are amazing.”

Shaheen said he made the last-minute decision to run for office Friday morning after concluding a NASA camp he helped lead for elementary students. 

Granger said he is a hard-working guy who is “sick and tired of corporations buying off our politicians.”

“I want to represent working-class people,” he said. “I’m really happy at where I am in life right now, but I wanted to take a shot at this.”

Shaheen and his wife, Sandra, share two children, Tuesday and Jacob.