After months of campaigning, mudslinging, posturing and accusations from one campaign to another, Teche Area residents will cast their ballots Saturday in this year’s gubernatorial primary election.
The funny part about this election season is that the governor’s race hasn’t been the big topic of conversation. With two state representative seats left open with no incumbent running and two sheriff’s seats up for grabs, local races have dominated the attention this election cycle in the Teche Area.
Here’s a quick look at the races in each of our three parishes:
Although some Iberia Parish voters toward the Loreauville area will be voting in the state’s District 46 House race, which pits incumbent Michael “Mike Pete” Huval against challengers Virginia “Ginger” Benoit and Keith Baudin, most of the parish has been fixated on two districts with no incumbent — the District 48 race, which has businessman Beau Beaullieu, Iberia Parish District 8 Councilman Ricky Gonsoulin, Iberia Parish School Board President Dana Dugas and Democrat David Levy facing off for term limited Speaker of the House Taylor Barras’ seat, and the District 96 race, in which Marcus Bryant, Cammie “Yogi” Maturin, Robert H. “Bob” Titus II and Patrick Isaac Wiltz are competing for retiring Rep. Terry Landry’s district.
On the parish level, the field for outgoing Sheriff Louis Ackal’s seat is the most crowded. Two perennial candidates, Joe LeBlanc and Roberta Boudreaux, have again cast their hats into the ring. This time around, however, they face two longtime former Louisiana State Police veterans in Tommy Romero and Murphy Meyers, as well as a strong run from Jeanerette City marshal and acting Police Chief Fernest “Pacman” Martin and an outsider bid from Clinton “Bubba” Sweeney, who has touted his lack of previous state police experience as a major selling point.
One race that will be decided Saturday is the Clerk of Court competition between incumbent David Ditch, who inherited the office after Clerk of Court Michael Thibodeaux was convicted of 14 felony counts in May, and former Chief Deputy Clerk Ryan Huval. Huval’s father, Assessor Ricky Huval, declined to run for another term in his office, leaving it open for Barras to take the seat unopposed.
The race for Parish President has been relatively quiet this season. Incumbent Larry Richard has held a commanding lead in fundraising while his opponents, Ronnie Miguez and Iberia Parish District 9 Councilman Joel Dugas, have run largely self-funded, grass-roots campaigns.
The defection of several members of the Iberia Parish Council — Gonsoulin to run for the District 48 seat, Dugas to run for Parish President and the retirement of District 3 Councilman Tommy Landry — has left some room for new blood on the panel. In addition to those three vacancies, though, there are six incumbents facing challengers. Depending on the outcome of those races, the incoming president could be facing either a steady transition with a seasoned council or have to deal with a new group trying to get a grip on the levers of government.
All but two of the council district elections will be definitely be decided without a runoff decided Saturday. Only in Districts 10 and 14 are there more than two contestants, which could possibly lead to a runoff.
In the District 10 race, incumbent Eugene Olivier faces challenges from former Iberia Parish Councilman Roger Duncan and “Chris” Williamson. In District 14, incumbent Chad Maturin will also vie against a former councilman in Wayne Romero as well as facing challenger Michael Poirrier.
The other districts are District 3 where two relative newcomers, Brad Davis and Madelyn Coleman Dugas, are vying for the seat; District 8, where Republicans Robert Jordan and James Trahan are locked in a close race; and District 9, where Loreauville Republicans Hubert Landry Jr. and Scott Ransonet are hoping to win out.
In District 6, however, incumbent Natalie Broussard will face challenger Frederick “Bozo” Metz, the same Iberia Medical Center board member whose investigative report the council will be considering in coming weeks. In District 7, Council Chairman Paul Landry faces a challenge from Wes Pattillo. In District 11, incumbent Brian Napier is pitted against newcomer Brock Pellerin. And in District 12, incumbent Berwick “June” Francis is vying to keep his seat against challenger Lady Fontenette Brown.
The odd race out this season is the New Iberia City Marshal’s contest, which was made necessary with the death of former Marshal Vic Delcambre. That race has four candidates: Tony Migues, Bret Lang, Greg Pete and Mike “Bomba” Lopez, who has largely disappeared from the race.
St. Martin Parish
The residents of St. Martin also will be voting in the state District 46, 48 and 96 state house races. Some Upper St. Martin Parish residents, however, will vote in District 24, where incumbent Gerald Boudreaux will face challenger Cory Levier. In Lower St. Martin Parish, some residents will vote in District 50, where term limited Sam Jones will vacate the seat. Five contenders are vying for his spot: Shawn Canty, Javon Charles, Raymond Harris Jr., Chet Howard, and Vincent J. St. Blanc III.
As in Iberia Parish, the retirement of the incumbent sheriff has left an opening. Incumbent Ronnie Theriot’s son, Brian Douglas Theriot, is hoping to fill his father’s shoes. But he has opposition from two candidates, Becket Breaux and Albert “Buz” LeBlanc.
There are also six contested parish council races on the ballot. Only two incumbents, Byron Fuselier in District 1 and Albert “Da Da” Menard in District 7, are facing opponents. Fuselier will take on challenger Chad A. Broussard, while Menard faces no fewer than three opponents: Vincent Alexander, Francis Reed and Joseph B. Sylvester.
The other four contested districts are open due to term limits on incumbents. In District 2, incumbent Lisa Nelson’s father, former St. Martin Parish Councilman and former St. Martinville Mayor Thomas Nelson is making a run for the family seat, but faces competition from Jess E. “Poppa” Crosier and Carla Jean Batiste. In District 3, Vonda LeBlanc and LaTanghue “Tangie” Narcisse will face off for incumbent Jason Willis’ seat. In District 4, David M. Poirier and Andrea L. Sonnier will vie for incumbent Neil Thibodeaux’s slot on the council. And in District 6, Brook Champagne and Rocky “Black” Hebert will battle for incumbent Jill Hebert’s spot.
St. Mary Parish
In addition to voters in the District 50 House race, St. Mary Parish voters will also be selecting a representative for District 51, where incumbent Beryl Amedee is facing a challenge from Clayton Voisin.
There is also a sheriff’s race in St. Mary Parish. Incumbent Blaise Smith faces challenges from Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi and Todd Pellerin. The incumbent clerk of court is also facing a challenger. Cliff Dressel will fight to keep his job for another term against challenger Rose Susan Dorsey.
Parish President David Hanagriff is also facing a challenge from Kenneth W. Perry of Franklin.
On the St. Mary Parish Council, seven of the 11 seats are being contested Saturday. In District 3, Rodney Olander, Gwen Pellerin and Peter Soprano are vying for incumbent Dale Rogers’ seat. Rogers is running instead for one of the council’s three at-large seats, District 9, where he will face Murphy Pontiff and Kristi Prejean. Three candidates are vying for each of the other two at-large seats. In District 10, Jeremy A. Chesteen, Rhonda R. Dennis and Gwendolyn Landry Hidalgo will fight it out, while in District 11 Dean S. Adams, Howard Castay and William “Bill” McCarty will seek the voters’ approval.
In District 4, Danny Lipari, Jimmy Lemoine Jr. and Scott Ramsey are in a three-way struggle for incumbent Glen Hidalgo’s district. In District 5, Leslie “Les” Rulf Jr. is facing off against Reginald D. Weary. In District 8, Mark A. Duhon, “Nick” Morris and Andros A. Williams will be duking it out.