Jefferson Parish elections shaping up to be competitive as qualifying ends

The April 6 election in Jefferson Parish’s municipalities is shaping up to be fairly competitive with several new and old faces qualifying for elections in Westwego and Gretna.

The final day of qualifying Friday ended with most of the City Council seats in Westwego up for grabs, including the seat held by Councilman Ted Munch for three decades.

Munch is challenging Mayor Johnny Shaddinger again after in a run-off election in 2008. Unlike in 2008 when the mayoral election was a special election, Munch had to sacrifice the council seat he’s held since the city had aldermen and a police jury to run this election cycle.

Munch is joined in challenging Shaddinger by former Councilwoman Lisa Valence, who also ran for mayor in the past election. The field is much smaller than the eight candidates who initially qualified in 2008.

In addition, council members Larry Warino, Ivy Rogers and Melvin Guidry have all drawn challengers in the election. Warino, a Republican, will be challenged by John Poche, a Democrat, and Courtney Watts Reyes, a Republican in District 5. Guidry, a Democrat, is being challenged by Harris Camardelle, no party affiliation, and Garrison “Gary” Toups. Toups is a former council member who previously ran against Warino, but now must face Guidry for the District 4 seat after Westwego changed its voting district boundaries. Toups and Guidry are related.

Rogers, a Democrat, will face off against Norman Fonseca, a Democrat, for the District 3 seat, while Al Kaiser, a Republican, and Johnny Nobles Jr., a Democrat, will try to gain control of Munch’s old District 2 seat.

District 1 Councilman Glenn Green is running unopposed, while Police Chief Dwayne “Poncho” Munch will be challenged by Roy Lafleur.

In Gretna, Police Chief Arthur Lawson and City Council members Raylyn Beevers, Milton Crosby and Wayne Rau will all be re-elected without opposition.

However, the decision by Mayor Ronnie Harris to leave his position to lead the Louisiana Municipal Association has drawn two council members to vie for the mayoral seat and opened up two council seats for contention.

Council members Vincent Cox III and Belinda Constant are competing to see who will replace Harris after his extended tenure. Constant and Cox have both been positioning themselves for the race for months since it became common knowledge that Harris was not returning. The races to replace both council members have drawn four candidates each.

Rodney Hinrichs, Elaine Molaison Johnson, Mark Miller and “Milos” Valenta are all seeking the District 3 seat. Johnson and Miller qualified as Republicans, while Hinrichs and Valenta did not list a party affiliation.

In Constant’s district, “Connie” Hebert, Joseph Marino III, Sherman Rogers and Carl Contranchis are all seeking to represent the city’s downtown. Hebert and Contranchis registered as Democrats, while Marino and Rogers did not list a party affiliation.

In addition, Jefferson Parish voters will decide on a new 24th Judicial District judge for Division D. Hilary Landry, Lorraine Perkins McInnis, Scott U. Schlegel and John Sudderth are running for that position.

All four candidates are Republicans.

The only race on the April 6 ballot in Orleans Parish is for an open judge’s seat on the bench at Juvenile Court.

Five candidates qualified for that position: George “Gino” Gates IV, Doug Hammel, Catherine Hilton, Yolanda King and Cynthia Samuel. All are Democrats, except for Hilton, who listed no party, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State.

The race is being held to fill a seat left vacant when voters elected former Deputy Chief Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier to the bench at Criminal District Court.

Danny Monteverde

contributed to this report.