The Passing of Friend Mike O’Keefe!

My longtime friend of many years, former state Senate president Michael O’Keefe, passed away this past week. He was 89 years old. Mike was my mentor when I was elected to the Louisiana State Senate back in 1972. He put me on key committees, and looked after me as a young lawmaker in the early days of the Edwards Administration

His daughter, Erin O’Keefe, said her father had a strong ability to work with people on all sides of an issue.“He was a politician and while a lot of people think that’s a dirty word and making deals is something bad, that’s what it takes to get bills successfully passed, to improve things for your constitutents,” she said. “He would bring people together to compromise.”

In the 1960s, she said her father was a strong proponent of racial equality and social justice. She said one of the first bills he introduced in the senate dealt with integrating public schools.  “He got exactly one vote. It took about six years of him introducing the bills and talk more senators into supporting it,” she said.

While in the legislature, Mike O’Keefe also played a major role in building support for the funding and construction of the Louisiana Superdome, the Morial Convention Center and many other public projects.  Mike O’Keefe was the first Senate president to be elected by his fellow senators under the new 1974 state constitution. Prior to that, the lieutenant governor served as senate president, as is the case in many other states. He was a real gentleman and an all around good  guy. We will sure miss him.

 

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