voting stock ballot election

Many Livingston Parish incumbents are heading into the final day of qualifying Thursday still unopposed, though challengers have one more day to diversify the races.

As of close of qualifying on Wednesday, Sheriff Jason Ard, Clerk of Court Jason Harris, Assessor Jeff Taylor and Coroner Dr. Ron Coe, all Republicans, had not yet drawn any opponents in their races.

Two-term Parish President Layton Ricks, a Republican, also did not have any opposition as of Wednesday.

A different issue, however, was playing out in some races in the surrounding parishes, where no candidates at all had filed to run for certain seats.

Tangipahoa Parish Coroner Rick Foster had not filed for re-election by late Wednesday, and nor had anyone else.

West Feliciana Parish President Kenny Havard, who won his seat last fall following the retirement of the former parish president, had not been challenged as of Wednesday, nor had a slew of other Baton Rouge-area incumbents including the Iberville and Ascension coroners, the Tangipahoa Parish clerk, assessor and parish president, and the West Baton Rouge clerk and coroner. 

West Baton Rouge assessor Barney "Frog" Altazan had not filed for the race as of Wednesday, but one candidate, independent Chris Guerin, had.

Other area races saw some movement Wednesday in challengers to long-time elected officials.

Iberville Sheriff Brett Stassi will be challenged by Darren "D-Man" Bourgeois Sr., both Democrats. Stassi has held his position as the sheriff since 2011 and has maintained a fairly uneventful tenure compared to some of his statewide counterparts.

In West Feliciana, incumbent Sheriff Brian Spillman, a Republican, will face independent Stan Branton Jr. and Michael Roberts, a Democrat, should no more challengers file Thursday.

Twenty-year incumbent Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso will face Oneal "Elmo" Bosley, who has not listed a party, and Percy E. Butler Jr. and John "Mud-Bone" Lasseigne, both Democrats. Ourso is also a Democrat.

West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Mike Cazes, who has had a tumultuous year of allegations and investigations, is facing two candidates thus far in Democrats Barnell Williams and Mike Zito.

Cazes was briefly under investigation in the spring when he was found to have a state work release inmate, who is also a sex offender, working at his home. Several work release deputies from the parish's jail have been arrested in the past year under allegations of misconduct including inappropriate relations with inmates, and multiple inmates have escaped or walked off from work release sites.

Most recently, many members of the Port Allen and West Baton Rouge communities are pushing for transparency in the investigation into the deputy-involved shooting death of Josef Richardson, who was reportedly shot in the back of the head by a deputy serving a warrant at a Port Allen motel. Officials have not released the name of the involved deputy.

Still, Cazes has held his seat for four terms and at the last election won re-election with 73 percent of the vote against only one other candidate.

West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley "Pee Wee" Berthelot, who is in his fourth term, drew an opponent Wednesday in Brusly Democratic Clayton Hebert.

The 21st Judicial District judgeship that was opened by the recent retirement of Judge Doug Hughes drew two more candidates Wednesday: Republicans Ernie Drake and William Scott Dykes. Brian Abels, a Denham Springs Republican, had already filed Tuesday.

Candidates have until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to qualify to get on the Oct. 12 ballot. A runoff election is scheduled Nov. 16.

Email Emma Kennedy at ekennedy@theadvocate.com.