Long after many St. Bernard Parish residents gave up urging their embattled parish leader to step aside over his mounting legal issues, they finally threw him out, instead choosing a pair of Parish Council veterans to compete in next month’s runoff for St. Bernard’s top job.
With all the returns in, former Parish Councilman Wayne Landry had about 32 percent of the vote, while current councilman Guy McInnis had 27 percent. They will square off in the Nov. 21 runoff.
Louis Pomes, 51, of eastern St. Bernard, came in third place with 21 percent.
Peralta, always considered a long shot in the seven-way race as he sought a second term, finished fifth with 3 percent.
Peralta faces pending criminal charges in three separate jurisdictions. In August, he was charged in a 22-count indictment that includes allegations of malfeasance in office and abuse of power. His other legal problems largely stem from the bitter breakup of his marriage.
Unable to remove him from office since he hadn’t been convicted, the Parish Council instead passed measures to chip away at his authority. It led to one confrontation after another, culminating in a brief, bizarre state of emergency that Peralta declared this summer after the council canceled a controversial parish contract with a technology firm run by an ally of his.
Landry, 56, a Democrat who lives in eastern St. Bernard, served on the council from 2008 to 2012. A lifelong parish resident, he helped spearhead establishment of the $70 million parish hospital. He served without pay as its interim CEO after the nonprofit Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System withdrew from managing it in late 2012.
Landry lost a bruising race for sheriff in 2011 to Jimmy Pohlmann.
McInnis, 52, of Meraux, has worked as a teacher and basketball coach at Chalmette High School for the past 16 years. He has no party affiliation.
An accountant, he was Parish Council chairman and served on its Water and Sewer Committee. He also was elected a justice of the peace in 1996 and managed the Sheriff’s Office’s finances in the mid-1990s.
Saturday’s primary likely ends the political career of Peralta, a 61-year-old Republican from Meraux. He has maintained that the state’s prosecution of him is political and that his legal woes never interfered with his responsibilities as parish president.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.