In an all-Republican field, Jeff Johnson and Jeff Cashe claimed the two open seats on the 21st Judicial District Court during Saturday’s runoff election.
Johnson defeated Mike Betts with 62 percent of the 61,090 votes cast in the race for the bench in Division A.
Cashe won a much closer race against Glenn Westmoreland in Division J family court. Cashe took 52 percent of the vote.
In the Division A race, Johnson’s victory Saturday came on the heels of his near-win in the Nov. 4 general election, falling only 510 votes, or 0.72 percent, shy of winning that race outright. However, he planned to treat the runoff campaign as if the election had been a tie, he said recently.
Johnson and Betts said their primary objective during the campaign was to get their supporters to the polls Saturday. Betts predicted before the race that 25 percent or less of the voters would show up; however, a little more than 37 percent cast ballots.
Betts, 52, a Republican from Denham Springs, has had a private practice for 26 years.
Johnson, 45, a Republican from Ponchatoula, served as a prosecutor with the District Attorney’s Office for 20 years.
He recently said the biggest concern he heard from voters while he was campaigning was about the number of defendants who receive probation rather than jail time. He said a probationer will either take the opportunity to become a productive citizen or end up back in prison.
Johnson said voters also were concerned about the time it takes to resolve a case and about ensuring transparency in the judicial system.
In the Division J family court race, the vote was much closer with Cashe claiming 32,024 votes to Westmoreland’s 29,811 votes; about 37 percent of registered voters cast ballots, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Fewer than 9,000 votes — of 73,110 cast — separated Cashe, Westmoreland and Jenel Guidry Secrease in the Nov. 4 election. Westmoreland won that race, claiming 39 percent of the vote over Cashe’s 33 percent.
Cashe and Westmoreland said after the Nov. 4 race that they were each going to try and swing as many of Secrease’s supporters to their respective sides as possible.
Cashe, 41, a Republican from Hammond, worked for 12 years in private practice in Hammond and formerly practiced real estate and oil and gas law in Texas.
Westmoreland, 52, also a Republican, of Livingston, spent 30 years working in a general practice and a short stint as a prosecutor. He has substituted as Walker town magistrate.
Cashe said recently he was pleased so many voters were interested in the family court judge’s race and noted that the decisions made in this court “hit closest to home.”
Cashe said during the campaign that he supports the district’s use of hearing officers in family law cases. One reason he cited was that a hearing officer can spend time with the people, which allows them an opportunity to discuss family issues and puts the officer in a position to make a recommendation without lengthening the court process.
He said resolving family issues as quickly as possible is important to the families.
The 21st Judicial District encompasses Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes.
Denham Springs City Council
Denham Springs City Council incumbent Chris Davis held on to his seat in Saturday’s vote — but just barely.
Davis claimed 51 percent of the vote against challenger Julie Dyason-Norris in the runoff for the final seat on the five-member council.
According to unofficial records on the Secretary of State’s Office website, only 51 votes separated the candidates in an election with 2,859 ballots cast. Voter turnout was 44.5 percent.
Davis and Dyason-Norris earned enough votes to reach the runoff after the general election last month. At the time, 12 candidates competed for the council’s five seats, all of which were up for vote and are selected at-large.