With a pandemic going on, a hurricane season that seemingly won’t stop and an ongoing economic crisis, it stands to figure that the Teche Area would also end up facing one of the weirdest election cycles ever.
Welcome to 2020.
For the first time, more than 14,000 early and absentee votes were cast in Iberia Parish. In St. Martin Parish there were more than 13,000, and more than 10,000 in St. Mary Parish.
So the usual pre-election coverage is a little late this year. More than a third of the votes in the last presidential election in the Teche Area are already cast.
Then again, that means more than two-thirds aren’t. And there are a few things that might need explaining, especially in the area of constitutional amendments on the ballot.
Most voters know there is a race for president, but may not be aware there are more than two candidates. So don’t be surprised when you see a list of 13 candidates. Most you may have never heard of, but they have qualified to run in Louisiana. Including Kanye West and his Birthday Party.
There are also two national legislative races, one for U.S. Senate, the other for U.S. Representative from District 3. In the Senate race, incumbent Bill Cassidy faces a field of 14 challengers including Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins, while incumbent Rep. Clay Higgins is facing a smaller field of three challengers — Rob Anderson, Braylon Harris and Brandon LeLeux.
The dominant Teche Area races, though, center on the 16th Judicial District Court. In addition to the race for district attorney between incumbent Bo Duhé and former 16th JDC Judge Lori Landry, there are two judicial races, one for Division F between St. Martinville attorney Keith Thibodeaux, New Iberia attorney Natalie Broussard and current 16th JDC Assistant District Attorney Anthony “Tony” Saleme and Landry’s former Division H seat, where 15th JDC Assistant DA Roger Hamilton, New Iberia attorney Thailund “Tai” Porter-Green and New Iberia attorney Alicia Butler will face off.
Two city marshal races are on the ballot as well. One, in New Iberia, pits incumbent Tony Migues against his previous challenger Brett Lang and former police officer Corey Porter. In Jeanerette, incumbent Fernest “PacMan” Martin faces two challengers, Terrance “Big Moe” Moore and Samuel Wise III.
New Iberia voters will also be choosing city council members. Businessman and artist Paul Schexnayder, former Iberia Parish Councilman Ricky Gonsoulin and former New Iberia City Councilman David Merrill are vying for the Mayor Pro Tem seat. In District 2, voters will choose between incumbent Marlon “Marlo” Lewis and Benjamin T. Meyers. In District 4, incumbent Deidre Ledbetter is pitted against challenger Robert “Bob” Titus II. And in District 5, incumbent Sherry Guidry faces a challenge from business woman “Deedy” Johnson-Reid.