Pearl River Mayor David McQueen and Folsom Mayor Lance Willie easily won re-election in municipal elections held Nov. 6, but Abita Springs Mayor Greg Lemons will be in a runoff against town Aldermen Dan Curtis.
Those were only three of 29 ballot decisions voters faced in the congressional midterm/municipal election. Others included races for aldermen in each of those three north shore municipalities, for 10 of 15 parish School Board districts, for a state House seat in the Slidell area and for chief of police in Pearl River. Voters also cast ballots in a special secretary of state election, for U.S. Congressional District 1 and for a handful of constitutional amendments and local millages and tax proposals.
St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court Melissa Henry said there was 54 percent voter turnout on Nov. 6 — a higher percentage than recent races, but customary for midterm Congressional ballots.
In addition to the mayor's race in Abita Springs, voters will head back to the polls Dec. 8 to decide runoffs for the House District 90 seat, Pearl River police chief, School Board seats in districts 8 and 11 and for secretary of state.
McQueen grabbed 59 percent of the vote and held off a challenge from town aldermen Lora Cutrer to win his second term as Pearl River’s mayor. Both are Republicans.
Voters also chose five people to serve a term on the Pearl River Board of Aldermen, including incumbents David McGregor (the leading vote-getter with 658 votes); Bridget Bennett (592 votes); and Kathryn “Kat” Walsh (459 votes.) Challengers “Angel” Galloway (509 votes) and Joe Lee (612 votes) will join them on the new board when it is seated. Galloway is an Independent and the other four are Republicans.
Pearl River will have a new police chief, as Republican incumbent J.J. Jennings (23 percent) finished third in a field of four candidates. Republicans Jack Sessions (43 percent) and Chris Culotta (31 percent) will meet in a runoff on Dec. 8 to see who will be top cop in the town for the next four years.
Willie, a Republican, was appointed Folsom’s mayor late last year after Bettye Boggs resigned, and he handily won victory in his first time asking voters for the job. Willie garnered 77 percent of the vote to easily beat Democrat challenger Wendell Sams.
Republican and political newcomer Shawn Dillon (28 percent) led a field of four candidates vying for three spots on the village’s Board of Aldermen. Incumbent Democrat George Garrett grabbed 25 percent of the vote, and fellow incumbent Jill Mathies, a Republican, was third with 24 percent. Deanna Richardson Mingo, who has no party, finished a vote behind Mathies, 156-155, to narrowly miss a spot on the board.
Lemons, a two-term incumbent, ran second in a five-person field for Abita Springs mayor. Curtis led the pack with 29 percent of votes cast, and Lemons was second with 27 percent. Both men are Republicans.
There will be significant turnover on the Abita Board of Alderman, with Ryan Murphy the only one of five incumbents who sought re-election. Murphy led an eight-person field with 789 votes. Evette Randolph was second (728 votes,) Regan Contois and Stephen Saussy tied for third (720,) and W.E. “Pat” Patterson was fifth (692.) All are Republicans except Contois, who is an Independent.
Ten of 15 seats on the St. Tammany Parish School Board were up for grabs on Nov. 6, and all but two races were decided.
In District 8 in the north Slidell and Pearl River area, Republicans Peggy Seeley and “Mike” Winkler are headed for a Dec. 8 runoff. Both collected 36 percent of the vote, with Seeley 42 votes ahead of Winker, according to secretary of state returns.
In District 11 in central/west Slidell, Republican Tammy Lamy (39 percent) and Democrat Maurice Doucette (27 percent) also reached a runoff. Republican incumbent Bob Womack finished third in a field of four.
A pair of political newcomers won School Board seats outright in three-person elections: Republican Matthew Greene in District 1 in the Mandeville area, and Republican Lisa Page in District 15 in the Slidell area.
In District 5 in central St. Tammany Parish, Republican Charles Brandon Harrell won 71 percent of the vote and will succeed his father, District 5 board member Charles T. Harrell, who did not seek re-election.
In District 7 in the Lacombe and Slidell area, Democrat incumbent Willie Jeter lost to Republican newcomer Shelta Richardson.
In District 13 in northern Slidell, Republican Jim Braud easily won a three-person race to replace School Board President Robin Mullett, who did not seek re-election.
Incumbents winning another term on the board include Elizabeth Heintz in District 2 in Covington, Jack Loup in District 4 in the Folsom area, and Sharon Lo Drucker in District 9 in the Mandeville/Madisonville area. All are Republicans.
Incumbents elected without opposition include Michael Dirmann of District 3, Michael Nation of District 6, Ronald Bettencourtt of District 11, Rickey Hursey in District 12 and Dennis Cousin in District 14. Cousin is a Democrat, and Dirmann, Nation, Bettencourtt and Hursey are Republicans.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise won 77 percent of St. Tammany votes and cruised to his sixth term as the District 1 congressional representative. The Republican will lose his position as majority whip in Washington D.C., however, as Democrats regained majority in the House during nationwide voting on Nov. 6. Scalise announced a day later he would seek nomination as House minority whip.
Interim Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin led a field of nine candidates, and garnered the third-highest vote total in St. Tammany Parish — trailing only former Republican State Sen. A.G. Crowe, of Pearl River, and current State Rep. Julie Stokes, another Republican who lives in Jefferson Parish.
Ardoin, a Republican, and "Gwen" Collins-Greenup, a Democrat, both earned 20 percent of votes statewide and made the runoff to replace former Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who resigned this year following accusations of sexual harassment.
Each of the six Louisiana Constitutional amendments on the ballot easily passed in St. Tammany and statewide. Parish voters also approved a measure that will legalize fantasy sports gaming in the parish.
Voters in the Mandeville area approved a pair of property tax renewals to operate St. Tammany Parish Fire District No. 4. The renewals each run for 20 years and generate 26 mills annually. An additional fire district proposal that would have added a $75 parcel fee to property owners’ tax bills failed 51 percent to 49 percent.
Fire district officials have said the parcel fee was necessary to build two new fire stations in the Mandeville area because emergency response times have increased as the area’s population has grown significantly in recent years.
In Abita Springs, voters approved a 3-mill, 10-year property tax renewal to maintain city parks, playgrounds, streets and streetlights.
Early voting for the Dec. 8 runoffs will be held Nov 24 through Dec. 1 (except on Sunday, Nov. 25) from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.