John LaBruzzo hopes to make incumbent Conrad Appel's support of Common Core a central issue in state Senate race _lowres

A campaign for former state Rep. John LaBruzzo on Alan Street in Metairie on Sunday, May 24, 2015. (Advocate staff photo by Ramon Antonio Vargas)

Former state Rep. John LaBruzzo has started campaigning for the Jefferson Parish Council’s Metairie-based District 5 seat, he said in a text message on Sunday night.

Blue-colored signs that had LaBruzzo’s portrait, name and the word “council” were put up in residential neighborhoods around Metairie throughout the previous week. One area where the signs were abundant was off West Esplanade Avenue, in the vicinity of Causeway Boulevard.

LaBruzzo has not publicized an official campaign kickoff or similar event, which is not necessarily unusual — district council races in Jefferson Parish tend to be grassroots campaigns.

Prior to Sunday, only former interim parish councilman Mike Thomas, a Republican, had declared his candidacy to succeed Cynthia Lee-Sheng as the District 5 representative on the parish council. Lee-Sheng has served District 5 since 2009 and is not seeking re-election due to term limits. She is pursuing one of the parish council’s two at-large posts during the Oct. 24 primary.

While Thomas on May 5 became the first to announce his intention to run for the post Lee-Sheng is vacating, LaBruzzo in March told The Advocate he was strongly interested in doing the same. The 44-year-old Republican said numerous people in Metairie had been asking him to run for public office again because they shared his political values.

LaBruzzo spent two four-year terms in the state House and then was defeated in a 2011 election by Nick Lorusso of New Orleans. LaBruzzo and Lorusso — also a Republican — faced each other after their respective Metairie- and Lakeview-based districts were folded into one.

Though he lost to Lorusso by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent, LaBruzzo captured 61 percent of the votes cast in Metairie for that race.

Many will recall that the ultra-conservative LaBruzzo informally proposed in 2008 to pay women receiving welfare $1,000 if they voluntarily chose to be sterilized. He also proposed a bill to ban abortion in Louisiana and continually authored legislation to require random drug tests of welfare recipients getting cash benefits.

LaBruzzo had $14,462 in his campaign finance account at the beginning of the year, according to his most recent disclosure form available on the state Ethics Administration Program’s website. That website doesn’t have any filings available for Thomas, 41, who was temporarily appointed to sit on the parish council from April 2011 to January 2012.

Local political observers expect at least one other person will join LaBruzzo and Thomas in the District 5 race this fall: Jennifer Van Vrancken Dwyer. She hasn’t yet revealed her future plans, however.

Dwyer is the chief operating officer for Jefferson Parish President John Young, who is foregoing re-election this fall to run for lieutenant governor.


Clarification: This post was updated to indicate that LaBruzzo didn’t just support legislation requiring random drug tests of welfare recipients getting cash benefits, but that he authored it. Originally, the article said he supported it.