St. Charles Parish Council Chairman Larry Cochran, D-St. Rose, and former Councilman Terry Authement, R-Boutte, are continuing to court voters before Saturday’s runoff to succeed Parish President V.J. St. Pierre Jr., who is barred from seeking re-election after two terms.
Authement and Cochran have similar platforms. Both say they will fight for federal and state money for levees and will work to prevent major flood insurance rate hikes and improve drainage.
But each man says his experience is a better fit for the top parish post.
Authement, 63, said his three council terms and his 33-year career at Monsanto’s Luling plant, where he supervised maintenance until his 2007 retirement, make him the most experienced candidate.
“My management background, managing large groups of industry and projects, shows that I have been responsible for large sums of money and contracts,” Authement said. “Those are things that I have that I don’t see in Cochran’s background.”
Authement held the 4th District council seat for two terms and then an at-large seat for one before making a bid for the parish assessor’s position in 2011. He came up short in that race, “but people said I should have been running for president, and they were right,” he said.
Cochran, 53, points to his more current experience as the council’s 4th District representative, plus his position as council chairman.
“The big difference is that Terry has been off the council for four years, but I understand what is going on with the government right now,” Cochran said. “I will hit the ground running, and as chair of the council right now I am dealing with a multimillion-dollar budget.
“I am a different person from Authement. I lead by example.”
Cochran, a network technician at St. Charles Parish public schools for the past 23 years, said his time with the school’s Information Technology department has taught him how to work within government and to understand employees’ needs.
He also touts leadership skills gained as the chief of the St. Rose Volunteer Fire Department for 17 years and as a past president of the St. Charles Volunteer Firemen’s Association.
In the Oct. 24 primary, Cochran won 40 percent of the 15,082 ballots cast. There are 34,140 registered voters in St. Charles, so turnout was 45 percent.
Authement took 26 percent.
The third- and fourth-place finishers, John Cornwell and Councilwoman Carolyn K. Schexnaydre, have since endorsed Authement.
St. Pierre also has endorsed Authement, citing a positive relationship with him while he was on the council.
Both Authement and Cochran said they haven’t changed their campaign strategy since the primary.
“I’m doing and saying the same thing, but I just have more people helping and more support,” Authement said.
In terms of fundraising, Cochran easily has been the financial juggernaut in the race, while Authement raised the least of the four candidates before the primary.
Overall, Cochran has raised about $175,000 compared with Authement’s $42,000, recently filed campaign finance reports show. But since the primary, the candidates are about on par, each bringing in about $20,000.
Each candidate says that, if elected, he will allow all current parish employees to interview to keep their current positions and that he will have an open-door policy, encouraging questions and discussion from employees and the public.