The three-day qualifying period for the Oct. 24 primary for numerous offices in the New Orleans area opened Tuesday with few surprises.
In Jefferson Parish, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni, 39, and three-term Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse, 75, each signed up for the parish president’s race, as has long been expected.
They are seeking to succeed Parish President John Young, who is running for lieutenant governor.
In Orleans Parish, the biggest news was that former City Councilman and state Rep. Troy Carter announced he is running for the District 7 seat in the state Senate being vacated by David Heitmeier.
While he has not yet qualified, Carter said he decided to run “after learning the shocking and last-minute news” that Heitmeier would not seek a third term so he could focus on his health and devote more time to his optometry practice.
Orleans Parish School Board member Leslie Ellison signed up to run for the seat, and state Rep. Jeff Arnold also is expected to enter the race.
In St. Tammany Parish, there were a few minor surprises, with Parish President Pat Brister getting a challenger and frequent Parish Council critic Terri Lewis Stevens electing to run for Councilman Marty Gould’s open seat. Apart from that, most of those who qualified had made their intentions clear weeks or months ago.
In St. Bernard Parish, four people qualified for the parish presidency, though embattled incumbent David Peralta was not among them.
Peralta, who has been indicted four times in the past 16 month on charges including stalking, perjury, malfeasance and abuse of office, has said he will run for re-election.
Taking a closer look at the highlights of Tuesday’s qualifying parish by parish:
Yenni and Lagasse have been campaigning to become the next parish president since the spring, yet each took time Tuesday to again discuss why they believe they are the right man for the office.
Yenni, the mayor of Kenner since 2010, said he’s managed to cut $8.5 million out of his city’s budget and eliminate 135 surplus positions. “I have learned how to do more with less,” and that’s what voters want, he said.
Lagasse touted his lengthy tenure as an elected leader in Jefferson. He’s been on the Parish Council since 2004, was superintendent of Jefferson’s public schools for nine years before that and also served on the School Board. “The key to this thing is leadership,” he said. “I’ve been doing (that) for many years.”
Both are Republicans.
Signing up to join Yenni and Lagasse in the race to replace Young were Jefferson Parish Council and Kenner City Council gadfly Al Morella as well as Robin Daldegan Christiana, who resigned as Lagasse’s administrative assistant earlier this year.
Morella, a 69-year-old Kenner resident, regularly attends local public meetings to harshly criticize elected officials. He ran against Yenni when the mayor easily won his second four-year term in 2014 and captured 617 of the 8,344 votes cast in that election.
Christiana, a 48-year-old Republican, became Lagasse’s West Bank-focused administrative assistant in 2011 after working for him as a clerk and secretary.
Incumbents signed up Tuesday for four Jefferson offices: Newell Normand for sheriff; Jon Gegenheimer for clerk of court; Tom Capella for assessor; and Gerry Cvitanovich for coroner.
For the Parish Council, Jimmy Lawson, of Gretna, a Democrat and former parish councilman, filed to challenge incumbent Chris Roberts, a Republican, for the Division A at-large seat. Roberts did not officially sign up Tuesday but has said he intends to run again.
District 5 Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, a Metairie Republican, filed for the Division B at-large seat.
In District 2, incumbent Paul Johnston and challenger Michael O’Brien filed. Both are Harahan Republicans.
In District 5, former interim Councilman Mike Thomas and Jennifer Van Vrancken, the former No. 2 in Young’s parish administration, signed up. Both are Metairie Republicans.
In Districts 1, 3 and 4, incumbents Ricky Templet, Mark Spears and Ben Zahn were the only candidates to qualify Tuesday.
State legislators seeking re-election include Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego; Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie; Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie; Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner; Rep. Joseph Lopinto III, R-Metairie; Rep. J. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie; Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego; Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Harvey; Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Terrytown; Rep. Tom Willmott, R-Kenner; and Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge.
Signing up to compete for the seat held by Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-Terrytown, was Rodney Lyons Sr., a Democrat from Harvey. Kyle Green Jr., a Marrero Democrat, signed up to challenge Billiot after running against him in 2011.
State Rep. Wesley Bishop signed up to run for the District 4 Senate seat, which is being vacated by term-limited Sen. Edwin Murray. Bishop will be challenged in that race by R. Erich Caulfield. Both are Democrats.
Sens. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, and Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans; and Reps. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans; Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans; Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans; Joe Bouie, D-New Orleans; Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans; and Chris Leopold, R-Port Sulphur, all signed up to run for re-election.
Of those, only Bouie had drawn a challenger by Tuesday afternoon. Eustis Guillemet Jr., a Republican, signed up to run for Bouie’s District 97 seat, though the address listed for him on the Secretary of State’s Office website falls outside district lines.
Candidates who have signed up for other races in Orleans Parish include:
House District 99: Ray Crawford and Jimmy Harris, both Democrats.
House District 100: John Bagneris and Jason Hughes, both Democrats.
House District 102: Lourdes Moran and Gary Carter, both Democrats.
School Board District 1: Keith Barney and Shawon Bernard, both Democrats.
St. Tammany Parish
The parish’s most-watched race this election cycle is likely to be for sheriff, where five-term incumbent Jack Strain, who ran unopposed in 2011, qualified along with two of his announced challengers: Scott Illing and Jennifer Werther. Strain’s other announced opponent, Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith, did not qualify Tuesday.
In other parishwide races, President Brister qualified, but so did Margie Vicknair-Pray, an anti-fracking activist who had not announced her candidacy before. Brister starts as a heavy favorite.
Another parishwide race expected to draw some heat is for clerk of court, where Nelson Rivers, Matt Faust and Melissa Henry all qualified to replace long-serving Malise Prieto, who bowed out of the race earlier this summer.
Incumbent Tax Assessor Louis Fitzmorris and his only announced opponent, Chip Bankston, both qualified.
Coroner Charles Preston was the only one to qualify for his post.
Two announced candidates to replace state Sen. A.G. Crowe qualified: Sharon Hewitt and Pete Schneider, both Republicans from Slidell. Jack Donahue was the lone candidate to qualify in the 11th Senate District.
The race to replace Sen. Ben Nevers has drawn four candidates: Republicans Brett Duncan and Beth Mizell, Democrat Mickey Murphy and John Seal, who listed himself as “no party.”
In the legislative races, Reid Falconer and Pat Phillips qualified to fill the 89th House District seat of Mandeville’s Tim Burns, who is term-limited. Kevin Pearson, John Schroder, Greg Cromer and Paul Hollis were the lone qualifiers for the 76th, 77th, 90th and 104th district seats, respectively.
In Parish Council races, one mild surprise was Stevens jumping into the District 5 race against Rykert Toledano Jr. The two are competing to replace Gould, who elected not to run again. Stevens has been a frequent critic of the council and of Brister. One of Stevens’ friends, former parish employee Irma Russell, qualified to run against Chris Canulette for the District 8 seat on the council.
In District 7, in which one-term incumbent Jake Groby has three announced challengers, only one of them, Gerrin Narcisse, qualified Tuesday, along with Groby.
In the open seat in District 13, both announced candidates, Michele Blanchard and Dan Crowley, qualified Tuesday. Red Thompson drew a challenge from George Stirling in District 3. Both are Democrats.
Newcomer Michael Lorino was the lone qualifier for the District 4 seat held by Falconer, who is running for the Legislature.
Incumbents Marty Dean in District 1, Richard Tanner in District 6, Gene Bellisario in District 9, Maureen O’Brien in District 10 and Steven Stefancik in District 11 were the lone qualifiers in their races. Jimmy Strickland qualified in District 14, where incumbent T.J. Smith has yet to qualify.
St. Bernard Parish
The field of aspiring candidates to replace Peralta as parish president consists of Democrats Wayne Landry and Tony “Ricky” Melerine, Republican Roland “Jimmy” Roques and Guy McInnis, who does not belong to a political party.
Landry and Melerine are former Parish Council members, while McInnis is currently on the council. Roques is a newcomer to politics.
Five people are vying for sheriff, including incumbent Lonnie Greco Sr.
Louis Badalamenti and Michelle Wilcox, both Democrats, joined Republicans Greco, Charles Guey and Gerald Turlich Jr. in qualifying Tuesday.
St. John the Baptist Parish
Incumbent Democrat Natalie Robottom is expected to run for re-election but didn’t sign up Tuesday. Four Democratic challengers submitted their paperwork to qualify against her: Daniel Becnel Jr., DeLisa Brown, Charles Julien and Terry Gene Lewis Sr.
Sheriff Mike Tregre filed for re-election and drew three challengers: Clifford Bailey, Samantha Burl Wilson and Michael Hoover. All are Democrats.
St. Charles Parish
Democrats Larry Cochran and John Cornwell filed to run for parish president to replace incumbent V.J. St. Pierre, who has reached the office’s term limit.
The qualifying period ends at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Advocate staff writers Chad Calder, Jaquetta White, Ramon Antonio Vargas and Faimon A. Roberts III contributed to this report.