Rajender “Raj” Pannu says she has never wanted a political career in her three decades living in LaPlace, yet she could soon become a member of the St. John the Baptist Parish Council.
Shortly before stepping down as the council’s District 7 representative Tuesday to take a job in Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s office, Buddy Boe recommended that his colleagues appoint Pannu — a businesswoman and the head of her neighborhood civic association — to be his interim replacement.
Council Chairman Marvin Perrilloux said he anticipates placing Pannu’s nomination on the agenda for the council’s June 28 meeting.
If the council confirms Pannu, as expected, she would serve until voters pick Boe’s permanent successor at a special election later this year.
Pannu, 61, moved to LaPlace after growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and earning a master’s degree in India, she said Wednesday.
She has primarily made a name for herself in the community as the longtime leader of the Belle Terre Civic Association.
But she is also known for owning a number of local Subway restaurants with her husband, Naunihal, and for her involvement with the Asian Pacific American Society.
Pannu said she intends to spend her time on the council pushing for public safety and beautification improvements.
“I really don’t like politics, but if I can help my community progress, there’s nothing wrong with that,” she said.
The parish charter would not prevent Pannu from running in the special election made necessary by Boe’s departure.
Nonetheless, she does not plan on signing up for the race, which will most likely be on the same ballot as the Nov. 8 presidential election, Perrilloux said.
Boe, a former chief administrative officer for St. Charles Parish, was five months into his first term as a St. John councilman when he resigned to become Nungesser’s communications director and senior adviser.
He cited the lieutenant governor’s top focus — marketing Louisiana to tourists — as his main reason for joining Nungesser’s staff.