No unexpected candidates popped up in the Slidell mayor's race on the first day of qualifying Wednesday for the March 24 election, but so far, only three of those expected to run have officially entered what is shaping up as the contest to watch on the north shore.
Former Parish President Kevin Davis, current Slidell Councilman-at-large Landon Cusimano and hospital executive Bruce Clement — all Republicans — qualified Wednesday morning to succeed Freddy Drennan, who is term-limited. State Rep. Greg Cromer, who has announced his candidacy, did not turn up.
Qualifying runs through Friday.
In Jefferson Parish, meanwhile, qualifying got off to a predictable start. The highest-profile race, the contest to replace former Sheriff Newell Normand, drew the two candidates who have said unequivocally that they are running: interim Sheriff Joe Lopinto and former Sheriff's Office spokesman John Fortunato.
Anthony Bloise, a Bridge City resident who garnered 12 percent of the vote in a run against Normand four years ago, was the only other candidate to file Wednesday. Former Parish President John Young, who has expressed interest in running, did not qualify.
In Kenner, incumbent Mayor Ben Zahn qualified to run for his first full term. His only opponent so far is Al Morella, a frequent candidate and gadfly who often enlivens City Council meetings with his outspoken comments.
In Orleans, three special elections to fill the seats of officials heading to new jobs saw a total of six contenders sign up Wednesday.
Former City Planning Commission Chairman Royce Duplessis and attorney Kenny Bordes qualified for the state House District 93 race, with Duplessis promising to bring the type of solutions he’s proposed to complex policy problems at the local level to the Legislature and Bordes pledging to focus on job creation.
The winner will replace Rep. Helena Moreno, who has been elected to the New Orleans City Council. Meanwhile, Camille Whitworth, a former television news anchor who worked — along with Moreno — at WDSU-TV, said she won't run for the seat, as rumored.
Two candidates, Richard Perque and Ellen Hazeur, signed up for the Civil District Court judgeship left vacant when Tiffany Chase won a seat on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in October.
Hazeur, the clerk of 1st City Court and a former city councilwoman, unsuccessfully sought a Civil District Court seat in 2011. Perque ran in 2014 for Civil District Court’s family court judgeship and in 2013 for Traffic Court. Hazeur pledged to push for a new courthouse on Loyola Avenue and to bolster the court’s technological security. Perque could not be reached.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal judgeship formerly held by Madeleine Landrieu, a sister of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, also saw two contenders qualify Wednesday. Landrieu stepped down to become the dean of the Loyola law school.
Dale Atkins seeks to leave her nearly 30-year career as clerk of Civil District Court to move to the appeals court. Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman also qualified.
Slidell and Kenner both have police chief and City Council races on the ballot, while Covington has a single council race, for the unexpired term of Mark Wright, who was elected to the Legislature. Two candidates are running for that District C seat: Republican Tim Burke and independent Joey Roberts.
In Slidell, Police Chief Randy Fandal, who won a special election to fill Randy Smith's unexpired term, went without a challenger on day one of qualifying.
The two district council members who are seeking the two at-large seats, Republican Bill Borchert and Democrat Glynn Pichon, were the only candidates to qualify for those posts.
The open District G seat drew the most candidates, with Republicans Cindi King and Ray Larry qualifying along with Glen Sutherland (no party). But District E, also an open seat, drew no candidates.
Incumbents Warren Crockett, a Republican, and Val Vanney, a Democrat, saw no challengers in Districts C and D, respectively, and Councilwoman-at-large Kim Harbison, a Republican, was the only qualifier for the District F seat.
Retired schoolteacher Leslie Denham, a Democrat, qualified in District A, an open seat, and Tommy Benasco, a Republican and former police chief candidate, signed up for District B, also an open seat.
In Kenner, Police Chief Michael Glaser, a Republican, qualified to run for re-election, so far without an opponent, and in the City Council races, the only incumbent to draw an opponent so far is Gregory Carroll, who is seeking a third term in the District 1 seat after presenting a petition to waive the city's normal two-term limit. His opponent is Jackie Brown-Cockerham. Like Carroll, she is a Democrat.
The candidates for the other Kenner council seats thus far are all Republicans.
Incumbents Tom Willmott, Mike Sigur and Lenny Cline qualified to run for the At-Large Division B and District 2 and 4 seats, respectively. Newcomer Glenn Hayes qualified for the District 3 seat after incumbent Keith Reynaud said he won’t run for re-election, and former interim Councilman Brian Brennan is seeking the District 5 seat, which was vacated by Dominick Impastato when he won election to the Parish Council.
In the race for the District 3 seat on the Jefferson Parish School Board, Tiffany Higgins Kuhn of Lafitte, a Republican, was the only candidate to qualify for the seat vacated by Ray St. Pierre, who died in July.
Allen Leone Jr. and Jack Rizzuto, both Metairie Republicans, have filed to run to replace Raymond Waguespack, who died in July, as the constable of Jefferson's 5th Justice Court.
Five Republicans are running for two justice of the peace posts in Madisonville: Amy Murphree, Wally Porter, Casey Revere, James "Scott" Ruel and Charles "Chuck" Wohltmann.