Editor’s note: Qualifying for the Oct. 24 primary election ended Sept. 10. This week’s article looks at the qualifiers from East Feliciana Parish. The Sept. 24 article will look at qualifiers from West Feliciana and St. Helena parishes.
Incumbent East Feliciana Sheriff Talmadge Bunch has drawn a crowded field of challengers for the Oct. 24 primary election. All candidates had to qualify by 4:30 p.m. Sept. 10.
Five men have qualified for the sheriff’s race. A runoff election, if needed, is scheduled for Nov. 21. Like Bunch, his four challengers are all Democrats: Troy Abshire, Fred Dunn, Richard K. Sobers and Jeff Travis.
Bunch is a four-term incumbent who has been on the since job since 2000.
“I’ve been proud to lead the dedicated law enforcement professionals that make up the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office for 16 years. I humbly ask the voters to give me the opportunity to continue to serve,” Bunch said in a statement.
Abshire has 15 years of law enforcement experience with the Clinton police. He started as a reserve deputy and worked up to assistant chief. He has also been an East Feliciana deputy constable and deputy sheriff.
“During my law enforcement career, I have worked with the citizens to solve the problems of our community,” Abshire said in a news release. “I have handled traffic accidents, investigated arsons, burglaries and homicides. Throughout my career, I have been fair and understanding when addressing the members of the community impacted by crime regardless of the circumstances.”
Dunn has been police chief of Clinton since 2013 and after a distinguished military career, worked in a number of law enforcement positions.
“I bring passion, discipline and unity,” Dunn said. “Since I was in the military, I don’t see color. It’s going to take someone to bring everybody together — unity. When I became chief, I got rid of racial discord. I’m reachable, people can talk to me and I have an open-door policy. I work alongside all people. I like to say, ‘If I can’t help you, I definitely am not going to hurt you.’ I’m firm but fair. My record speaks for itself.”
Sobers retired from the Baton Rouge Police Department after 25 years of service as a lieutenant and supervisor of operational services. He’s a notary public, so he said he understands civil law and criminal law.
“I believe there needs to be more training of deputies especially in areas like elder abuse, sex crimes, child abuse and also address drug trafficking and drug abuse issues in our parish,” Sobers said. “I’ve been contacted by people who are frustrated with the way the system is with getting the run-around or lots of delays. That comes from a lack of training. They need more up-to-date training and maybe better equipment.”
Travis retired in April as the chief of operations for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. He has served in law enforcement and corrections since 1988 and was head warden at Rayburn Correctional Center in Washington Parish for two years.
“I want to serve the people and I’m very passionate about serving the people and trying to make a difference in my community,” Travis said. “I have a passion to serve and this is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been positive about this election and keep it about the issues here and moving the parish forward. I don’t believe people could be governed excepted through service to them and I’m prepared to do that.”
In other East Feliciana Parish races, incumbent Clerk of Court David Dart will be opposed by Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup. Dart has been Clerk since July 2008 and is in his second full term.
He will be opposed by Collins-Greenup, a notary public in Clinton for the past 17 years.
“I want to serve my community any way I can. I feel I’m a great candidate for clerk of court and I’m looking forward to it,” said Collins-Greenup, who outlines her seven-point plan for the position at www.gwenforclerk.com.
Assessor Jeff Gardiner was unopposed and will begin his second term in January. He served as chief deputy for nine years and he’s been with the Assessor’s Office for 18 years.
There are two challengers to Laura DeJohn for coroner. DeJohn was elected in November to fulfill the remaining term of her husband, Michael, who died after a long illness in June 2014. She will be opposed by Michael Cramer, of Slaughter, who lists no party affiliation, and Democrat Joe Howell, of Clinton.
Five candidates for East Feliciana Police Jury won election by not drawing opposition: newcomers Glen Kent, no party, in District 1A and Democrat Sean Smith in District 6 along with incumbents Democrat Edward Brooks Sr. in District 2, Democrat Jason H. McCray in District 3 and Dwight Hill, no party, in District 4B.
Incumbent Chris Hall, no party affiliation, will face Democratic challenger George Turner in District 1B; incumbent Democrat Keith Mills will face Democrat J.D. Dantzler Jr. in District 4A; incumbent E.L. “Larry” Beauchamp III, other party, is opposed by Democrat Michael Cheatham in District 5 and incumbent Democrat Louis J. Kent, the current Police Jury president, faces Democrat Odis W. Bee in District 7.