Recall effort against Sorrento councilman fails

A recall bid filed in November against Sorrento Town Councilman Randy Anny, a supporter of retaining the Police Department amid the then-still-unfolding police turmoil, failed to gather the needed signatures by a Monday deadline.

Ascension Parish Registrar of Voters Robert Poché said recall petitions were not submitted by the 4:30 p.m. deadline when his office closed for business.

“Nothing came through,” Poché said.

Poché said the Anny recall needed one-third of the town’s registered voters, which works out to 348 signatures.

The signatures were due 180 days after papers were filed with the Louisiana Secretary of State on Nov. 20. The papers formally announced an effort was underway to gather enough signatures to place the recall on the ballot.

Poché said he had not heard from those behind the effort in the past six weeks.

Anny, a three-term councilman and one-time candidate for mayor who continues to defend the Police Department and the revenue it generates, said his friends, family and political allies told him the majority of the town supported him and they did not believe the recall effort would succeed when papers were filed.

“They said, ‘Randy, we don’t think this is going anywhere.’ They just said, ‘Keep doing the good work you’re doing,’ ” he said Monday afternoon after the deadline passed.

His term on the council ends June 30, 2017.

Anny, a Democrat, won one of five at large seats on the Town Council on April 6, 2013. One of two incumbents to retain his seat in the election, Anny finished fifth against eight other candidates with 202 votes, edging out fellow incumbent Councilman Milton “Needlenose” Vicknair by 10 votes.

The failure of the recall effort comes three months after former elected Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr. resigned and pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent about alleged inappropriate sexual contact with a heavily intoxicated woman whom Theriot picked up during a police call Nov. 1.

At the time the recall papers were filed, that allegation was not public. Department problems gaining attention centered around its loss of insurance coverage, officer misconduct and Theriot’s oversight of those officers.

Ivan P. Bernuchaux Jr., a failed candidate for Town Council in the April 2013 election, filed the initial recall papers with longtime Sorrento resident Doris D. Lee and, at the time, questioned why Anny was defending the department.

Bernuchaux, who did not return messages for comment Monday, said at the time that Anny was “stirring everything up” and inhibiting Mayor Mike Lambert from turning the town around.

Lee, 73, said Monday that when she started, she thought people wanted a change. But she said she had a hard time getting people to sign the petition.

“Basically, when it come down to it, they don’t want to do nothing. They don’t want to be involved. They don’t want people to see their name (on the recall petition),” Lee said. “I said, ‘Well, if you don’t say nothing, it’ll never change.’ ”

She said that the departure of Theriot may have played a role in the hard time she was having getting signatures but said residents gave her many reasons not to sign.

“I’m disappointed, but I did everything I could do. I don’t know what’s coming next,” she said.

Since Theriot’s resignation in early February, Theriot has not been replaced, and the parish Sheriff’s Office has been providing police protection. The town is moving toward a likely November election to decide whether to keep the department and elect a new chief or let another agency take over.

Lambert, who has a recall effort against him, said he was not involved in the Anny recall because he did not think it would go anywhere, and he did not sign the petition.

But he said the town has good protection from the Sheriff’s Office, improved its finances since last year and is looking forward to a surplus.

“I give the council credit for working with me on that to control our spending,” Lambert said.

Wednesday is the deadline for recall signatures to be submitted against Lambert.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.