Election season was over before it began for dozens of public officials across the Baton Rogue metro area, with many parish officials elected without opposition on Thursday, the last day to qualify.
In East Baton Rouge, it’s the first time in 49 years that the sheriff will not have to design yard signs and shake hands with the public while campaigning for another term. Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III now enters his third term and said he wants to continue to open lines of communication and find new ways to improve the office.
“I’m very honored, very humbled and I’m blessed,” he said after being re-elected. “I look at it as being a vote of confidence by the people in this parish, not only for me, more importantly for my department and the men and women in our department.”
Sheriffs in Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes were all elected without opposition. Ascension Sheriff Jeff Wiley, Iberville Sheriff Brett Stassi Sr., Pointe Coupee Sheriff Beauregard Torres and West Feliciana Sheriff Austin Daniel will all slide into new terms in office.
Wiley has not faced an election opponent since 1999, when he won his second term in office.
“I want to thank the public for believing in us, and long ago, our style and my style, has been ‘team’ before ‘I,’ ” Wiley said.
Stassi said the Sheriff’s Office in Iberville will take over the parish’s 911 operation, and he said he will continue to fight to get drugs off the street during his next term.
“Expect more of the same,” Stassi said. “We’re not going to let our guard down.”
Torres said he was “humbled” by and “appreciative” of the people of Pointe Coupee’s confidence in him as the leader of the parish’s law enforcement agency.
“I intend to continue on the path of making it a more professional department, driven by policy and procedure instead of the whim of the sheriff,” Torres said.
Two nearby parish presidents were also re-elected with no challengers. West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot Jr. will have another term leading his parish, along with Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.
“It’s awesome,” Berthelot said. “I love my job and working with people.”
He added that he will try to spend his next term improving infrastructure and recreation offerings.
“I appreciate the support from the people in Livingston Parish,” Ricks said. “It’s an awesome feeling and I am so thankful.”
It was also a breezy election season for many local coroners, clerks of court and assessors, most of whom were unopposed as well.
Seven local coroners saw no challengers. They include East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark, West Baton Rouge Coroner Phil Padgett, Ascension Coroner John Fraiche, Iberville Coroner James Grace, Point Coupee Coroner Harry Kellerman, West Feliciana Coroner Chaillie Daniel and Livingston Coroner Ron Coe.
Three clerks of court are also off to new terms without anyone to challenge them, including Ascension Clerk Bridget Hanna, who was appointed to the position earlier this year when longtime Clerk Kermit “Hart” Bourque retired. Pointe Coupee Clerk Lanell Landry and West Baton Rouge Clerk Mark Graffeo were also elected without opposition.
Many assessors also did not need to campaign to reclaim their offices, as seven were uncontested. The unopposed assessors were East Baton Rouge’s Brian Wilson, West Baton Rouge’s Barney “Frog” Altazan, Iberville’s Randy Sexton, Pointe Coupee’s Jimmy Laurent Jr., Livingston’s Jeff Taylor, East Feliciana’s Jeff Gardner and West Feliciana’s Randy Ritchie.
In Livingston, former felony prosecutor Charlotte Hughes-Foster, was elected without opposition to the 21st Judicial District Court’s Division B judgeship. She took the place of Judge Bruce Bennett, who retired.
David Mitchell also contributed to this report.