3 in running for Sorrento mayor’s seat

Voters can begin casting their ballots for a new mayor in Sorrento when early voting begins Saturday.

Three candidates, including a former two-term mayor, are seeking the position after Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. decided not to run for re-election. Longanecker is one of nine candidates seeking five at-large seats on the Town Council.

The mayor’s father, Wilson Longanecker Sr., is one of the three mayoral candidates. The elder Longanecker, a 73-year-old Democrat, served as the town’s mayor from 1989 to 1997.

He will face Jason Adams, a 38-year-old councilman and former interim mayor, and Mike Lambert, a 53-year-old former chief of the Sorrento Fire Department whose father served on the town’s first council.

Adams, a Republican, said he would like to work to bring “controlled growth” to the town. However, that starts with “baby steps,” including his top priority of getting the mayor’s office and Town Council working together for the good of the town, which he said “hasn’t happened in two mayors now.”

“It’s about time,” Adams said. “I think a lot can get done. ... The only promise that I’ll make is I promise to work with the council and town officials, the (police) chief, the town employees, to work with everybody to push the town forward. I ain’t gonna make promises that I can’t keep, but I will do everything I can to get this black eye off the town.”

Lambert, meanwhile, said there is “a list of things” that needs to be addressed in the town. His top priority, however, would be addressing the town’s budget to make sure the most basic services are being provided to residents.

He said there are “some serious issues” that have to be addressed with the town’s Police Department, and the town has to improve its infrastructure along the La. 22 corridor at Interstate 10 to accommodate future growth.

“We have to find the funds to expand the sewer system because the growth is going to come despite Sorrento’s shortcomings,” he said.

Lambert, a Republican, said he’s the right man to bring some order to the mayor’s office.

“I think I’m going to offer professional, stable, compassioned leadership,” he said. “I believe I’m a strong leader. I believe that I’ll have the business experience and the government experience to lead Sorrento forward.”

Attempts to reach Longanecker Sr., who previously cited resignations by town officials as well as problems with the town’s Police Department as reasons he is seeking the office, were unsuccessful.

Four of the incumbent council members are seeking re-election.

Randy Anny and Milton “Needlenose” Vicknair are seeking their third terms on the council, while Marvin Martin and John Wright are seeking re-election for the first time. Longanecker Jr. was elected to the council four years ago before winning a special mayoral election against Anny in 2011.

Joining the council race are four candidates who have not held office in the town before — Ivan Bernuchaux Jr., Wanda LeBlanc Bourgeois, Patti Melancon Poche and Don Schexnaydre. All nine candidates are Democrats.

Early voting will begin Saturday and continue through March 30 at the Ascension Parish Registrar of Voters Office, 828 S. Irma Blvd., Room 205, Gonzales; and the Ascension Parish Clerk of Court’s Office, 300 Houmas St., Donaldonsville.

The polls will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day with the exception of Sunday and Good Friday, March 29. Polls will be closed both days.

The candidates will need a majority vote to be elected — in the case of the mayor’s race, more votes than the other two candidates combined; and in the council race, more than 50 percent of one-fifth of the total votes cast. If run-offs are needed in either race, they will be held May 4.