At-large Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts defeated two challengers outright in his re-election race Saturday.
With all 271 precincts reporting, Roberts had just under 50.2 percent of the 83,804 votes cast in the election. Louis Congemi, a former Parish Council member and ex-Kenner mayor, had more than 25 percent; and Jimmy Lawson, also a former Parish Council member, had just under 25 percent.
Roberts needed more than half of the votes in Saturday’s race to win outright and avoid a Nov. 21 runoff with the second-place finisher.
Throughout the campaign, Congemi and Lawson accused the West Bank-bred Roberts of being too provincial to effectively represent his parish-wide constituency.
Roberts shot back that his endorsements included ones from East Bank-bred politicos, such as Metairie-based Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Parish Assessor Tom Capella, and U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. The union representing firefighters who protect Metairie and other nearby parts of unincorporated East Jefferson also endorsed Roberts, who said that showed Lawson’s and Congemi’s accusations were untrue.
The three-way race for Roberts’ seat was marked by a flurry of lawsuits that forced the incumbent and Congemi to spend entire days in courtrooms and off the campaign trail. Some of the lawsuits questioned whether ads targeting the candidates were legitimate political commentary or lies that broke state campaign laws, making it perhaps the most litigious and bitter parish race in recent memory.
Though he’s just 38, Roberts has been an elected official since he was 21. He served on the Jefferson Parish School Board from 1999 to 2003, and he’s been on the Parish Council since 2004.
The Republican first represented a West Bank-based district before being elected to serve at-large in 2011. His new four-year term will begin in January.
Meanwhile, Congemi, also a Republican, was Kenner’s mayor from 1996 to 2003 and was then on the Parish Council from 2004 to 2012.
Lawson, a Democrat, served on the Parish Council from 1976 until 1995, and he was appointed to the Jefferson Parish Housing Authority by Parish Councilman Paul Johnston last year.