Lazaroe Messina

Councilman Tim Lazaroe, left, and ex-councilman Wayne Messina face off Saturday for the District 1 seat on the Central city council. The Lazaroe photo was provided by the campaign. The Messina photo is a video frame grab provided by WBRZ.

Incumbent Central councilman Tim Lazaroe has turned back a challenge from a former councilman who wanted to return to the council.

Unofficial returns from Saturday's election show Lazaroe, a veteran East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy, defeating Wayne Messina, who had said he had unfinished business he wanted to complete. Lazaroe won 58% of the vote to Messina's 42%.

Lazaroe, 55, was appointed to the council in January and took the place of Aaron Moak, who was elected to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council. The Republican and board member of the Central Chamber of Commerce had said before the election that he wanted to help find a way to compromise on the panel. He said he had never seen such a dysfunctional group. 

Messina, 74, is a former educator and was among four incumbents turned out of office in 2018, two years after the 2016 floods. That year, voters pushed out the mayor and every sitting council member on the ballot.

Messina, also a Republican, said the Central council needed his experience and that he had remained current on local issues.

While Lazaroe and Messina were political opponents, they are also friends. They attend the same church and said they just disagree on city policies.