richmondCedric Richmond, 43, who has served as the representative of the second congressional since 2011, says he is running to keep the seat because he wants to continue to make a difference in the lives of residents, citing the work his office has done to assist constituents over the years.

“The thousands of people we have helped with social security and VA benefits,” Richmond says. “When people call us and have a problem, we usually can get it fixed. Over the past six years we have a very strong track record whether it was helping the residents of St. John after their disaster, or whether it was helping all of the river parishes after the tornadoes. Or whether it is the 400 million we just got as a down payment to help the Baton Rouge flood victims…all of those things speak to what I have done.”

If re-elected, Richmond says issues that impact “upward mobility” will top his agenda.

“We have to look at how we help people move up the economic ladder,” says Richmond, adding that criminal justice reform, income equity, living wages, affordable housing and small business development are some of the key issues that will get his attention.

When it comes to criminal justice reform, Richmond says he will put his energy in drafting and supporting legislation which invests in education, economic growth, and jobs.

“I believe we should be investing in opportunity instead of squandering tax dollars building more prisons.”

As for raising the minimum wage, he points to recent efforts to help boost income for average Americans such as President Obama’s change in the labor rule governing overtime pay, which will extend overtime protection to more than 4 million more Americans by increasing the cutoff for automatic overtime for salaried workers to $47,476.

“We will continue fighting on the federal level to increase the minimum wage; we are gradually doing things to increase income,” Richmond says, “But it would be great if we could just flat out raise the minimum wage, because you’re talking about 14 million people that will be lifted out of poverty.”

As for jobs and economic development, Richmond, who once served on the House’s Small Business Committee, says he will also continue to advocate on behalf of small businesses, which he says are major job creators and more likely to “take a chance” on marginalized workers, such as the formerly incarcerated or single parents.

“We have had a major boom up and down the River Parishes in the petro-chemical industry and steel industry,” he says. “But we still have a disconnect with high unemployment among African-American males. That’s why small African-American owned businesses, women-owned businesses and small businesses in general have to have a seat at the table.”