Polls have closed in four New-Orleans area parishes on what was expected to be a low turnout election Saturday with the Secretary of State’s Office reporting no problems, a spokeswoman said.
Voters in the four parishes faced a variety of races and propositions.
The low turnout seemed to be realized at Precinct 412 in St. Tammany Parish, if the trickle of voters who had come by 3 p.m. is any indication.
Just 45 of the precinct’s 1,200 voters had voted by midafternoon, according to poll worker Lori Sutton. It had been “very slow,” she said. The precinct’s polling place is at Mandeville Middle School, a little north and east of the city limits. Only one issue was on the ballot — the runoff election for Parish Coroner between Leanne Truehart and Charles Preston.
“There’s Jazz Fest, it’s a beautiful day,” or any number of other distractions, Sutton said. Poll workers were having to work hard to pass the time — some were scanning phones, others were reading and a few had even started a board game.
A slow trickle of voters was coming in, though.
Brett Willie, 46, said he had just left his son’s baseball game at nearby Pelican Park, and felt it was his civic duty to come and vote.
“Voting is important” in any election, he said, before dashing inside with his wife to cast his vote.
St. Tammany’s only parishwide race is the runoff for coroner. Truehart and Preston finished only three percent apart at the top of a four-person field in the April 5 general election, with Truehart getting 30 percent of the vote.
The two are vying to become the parish’s first elected coroner since Peter Galvan, who resigned last year and pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiring to steal public funds.
In Slidell, where Mayor Freddy Drennan and Police Chief Randy Smith ran unopposed and most council races were decided April 5, the only race on the ballot is a runoff for the Council District E, in which former Mayor Sam Caruso is facing retired business owner Pete O’Connell.
There are also five tax propositions scattered throughout St. Tammany Parish: two for recreation districts and three fire protection millage renewals.
Recreation District 10, which encompasses the city of Covington, is asking voters to approve 4-mills in new taxes that will, in effect, launch the district. Three times voters have rejected new taxes for a Covington-area recreation district, but the district lines have been redrawn to remove some areas most opposed to the proposal and supporters hope the 4-mills, which is lower than the previous proposals, will be approved.
The proposal is actually two taxes, a 2.5 mill tax for operations and a 1.5 mill tax to allow the issuance of $5 million in bonds to build a new gymnasium. Both taxes must pass for either to take effect.
On the eastern side of the parish, Recreation District No. 2, which serves the Bush and Sun areas, is asking voters to approve a 3.5-mill tax for maintenance and operations. A previous tax was allowed to lapse, and voters have refused to pass taxes in the past. But supporters of the measure say the district’s facilities are in such poor shape that if the tax doesn’t pass, the recreation district may have to shut its doors. They also point out that residents won’t see an increase in taxes because the district was able to lower its other millage from 4.8 to .8 mills.
Three fire districts — 5, 6 and 13— are also asking their residents to renew property taxes of about 10 mills. All three on the parish’s west side: 5 is in the northwestern corner of the parish, 6 is north of Covington and 13 is near Goodbee.
In Jefferson Parish, five millage renewals are before the voters, but only one affects the entire parish and two of the others apply only to Grand Isle.
Voters in Harahan are electing a police chief in a runoff between former Chief Peter Dale and former New Orleans police Officer Tim Walker.
St. Charles Parish voters are choosing between Julia Fisher-Perrier and Jarvis Lewis for an at-large seat on the Parish Council. An annual 2.48-mill tax that provides $2.9 million annually for emergency services at St. Charles Parish Hospital is also on the ballot.
In St. John Parish, voters are being asked to approve or reject several taxes for schools, including a bond issue that would raise up to $10.4 million to help rebuild flood-damaged Lake Pontchartrain Elementary in LaPlace. The bonds would be paid for by an existing 10-mill property tax. Propositions to renew a 4.33-mill property tax for maintenance and to rededicate the proceeds of an existing school tax are also on the ballot. None of the proposals would result in an increase in taxes, school officials said.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter @faimon.