Despite having considered a run to be the next president of Jefferson Parish, Chris Roberts said Monday he is going to seek re-election to his at-large seat on the Parish Council.
Roberts’ fellow at-large councilman, Elton Lagasse, revealed Friday that he intends to run for the parish presidency in the Oct. 24 election. He is the only announced candidate so far for that post.
Both Roberts and Lagasse said District 5 Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng had indicated to them by Monday that she would run for one of the council’s two at-large seats.
Lee-Sheng didn’t return messages seeking comment on her plans over the weekend and on Monday. But on Tuesday morning she announced in a news release that she indeed would go after an at-large seat, setting up a contest for an open post in Metarie-based District 5.
Lee-Sheng’s announcement didn’t specify for which at-large seat she would run, but it’s expected it will be the one Lagasse is leaving.
Roberts said he “explored all options,” among them seeking the president’s post being vacated by John Young, before he decided he can most benefit the parish by remaining a legislator for another four-year term. However, he acknowledged that he spoke with Lagasse before Lagasse’s announcement.
“Elton and I would have never run against each other,” said Roberts, who was the Jefferson Parish School Board’s president when Lagasse was the schools superintendent. “I’ve worked with Elton for a number of years, and I think he’ll do a good job” if he is elected parish president, he said.
Lagasse — who, like Roberts, is in his third term as a councilman — said he has been awaiting an opportunity to return to an administrative role in government, and it surfaced when Young announced he’d run for lieutenant governor in 2015 rather than seek another term as president.
“The administrative side ... is what I like to do,” said Lagasse, who spent nine years as the parish’s public schools superintendent. He also spent some of his 13 years on the Jefferson School Board as its president, and he was once a dean at Delgado Community College. “I’ve been there all my life.”
Lagasse said he hasn’t fully developed his platform yet. But he said he believes the pressing issues include developing vast tracts of unused land on the parish’s West Bank as well as improving the relationship between the council and the administration.
“Developing the (West Bank) land could mean more businesses and jobs in the parish and improving the tax base here,” Lagasse said. As for the council-administration relationship, he remarked, “We can only do this together. It’s a two-sided job.”
Lagasse said learning about Lee-Sheng’s intention to run for an at-large seat did not influence his decision to go after the parish presidency.
Lagasse began the year with $131,721 in his campaign finance account, according to his annual filing in February
Lee-Sheng reported she had $30,581 in her campaign account at the start of the year.
“I am seeking the council at-large seat because I am a problem solver and have been able to bring a variety of disparate groups together to achieve solutions to the many issues we face,” Lee-Sheng said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Her announcement highlighted her efforts to revitalize the Fat City area, her securing funding for the refurbishment of the Bonnabel Canal, and her helping craft a land-use agreement for the Tolmas tract on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.
Roberts said his annual filing is not on the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program’s website yet because of a technical issue he is in the process of resolving. He had about $20,000 at the start of the year but raised more than $50,000 at a lunch last week, he said.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on Tuesday morning after Lee-Sheng officially announced she was going for an at-large seat.