It looks like the next sheriff of Iberia Parish is going to come into office with decades of experience with the Louisiana State Police, along with security detail work at higher levels in the government — no matter which of the two candidates who made the runoff wins.
Tommy Romero earned front-runner status with 7,784 votes, or 35 percent, compared to his nearest competitor Murphy Meyers’ 5,242 votes, or 23 percent.
The rest of the crowded six-candidate field fell off after Meyers. Jeanerette City Marshal and acting Jeanerette Chief of Police Fernest “Pacman” Martin gained 4,155 votes, or 19 percent of the vote. Roberta Boudreaux, who made it to a runoff against current Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal in 2016, had 4,048 votes, or 18 percent. Perennial sheriff candidate “Joe” LeBlanc had 694 votes for 3 percent, and newcomer Clinton “Bubba” Sweeney got 389 votes for 2 percent.
Romero, entering the gathering at the Frederic Hotel on Main Street in New Iberia, gathered his family around him as he addressed a room of friends, family and supporters.
“The week ended better than it started,” he joked, telling the gathering about a leak that had flooded part of his house. “Well, we’ve got one down, and one more to go.”
He thanked God for his successful campaign, as well as his family and supporters.
“I’m going to continue to work as hard as possible for the people of Iberia Parish,” he said. “With 38 years of law enforcement experience, and 15 years of that undercover in the streets of the state fighting illegal drugs. Our community suffers from the drug problem, and I am going to fight to end it.”
The sheriff’s contest has been much anticipated after Ackal was indicted, then acquitted on federal civil rights charges in 2016. Nine of his officers were subsequently sentenced to federal prison after that investigation.
Both Meyers and Romero bring years of experience with the Louisiana State Police to the table. Both have also worked security details for state officials after leaving the LSP.
Meyers said he feels good about his chances now that the field has narrowed.
“He spent like $160,000, and I spent about $28,000, and we got into a runoff,” Meyers said. “Now it’s a completely different race. There’s not six people, only two of us. We ran on our reputation and our experience. We ran a grassroots campaign, and I see no reason to change that now.”
The runoff election will be held on Nov. 16.