Gretna — Three political newcomers with strong views are vying to replace Councilwoman Belinda Constant as the political leader of Gretna’s second council district.
Carl Contranchis, Joseph Marino III and Sherman Rogers all believe they have the experience and ability to successfully take over from Constant, who is running for mayor.
None of the candidates has held elected office, although all tout their community involvement as proof that they are the right person for the job.
Contranchis is a former Gretna police officer and the city’s former clerk of court. He says his decision to run for the council was a natural outgrowth of his lifelong service to Gretna and Constant’s decision to leave the seat. He believes his time serving the city in other roles is proof he could be a successful council member.
“I’ve been a public servant my whole life. That’s what I did; I worked for the people,” Contranchis said.
He said District 2 is in pretty good shape, but residents are looking for more accessibility from their leaders. Contranchis wants residents to be comfortable contacting him on his wireless phone at any time.
Contranchis also noted that since he has retired from work, he will have more time to devote to the city’s residents.
One of his first goals is to follow up on a recent drainage study in the district and determine the best action to take.
“This district, this whole city, has made a lot of progress in recent years,” he said. “My vision for the district and for the city is to keep it moving forward.”
Marino, an attorney, said he also has a history of serving the city’s residents through his time on the Historic District Advisory Committee and the West Bank Boys and Girls Club. He has been interested in city government for years, he said, and when Constant notified him of her decision, he knew it was time to run.
“I’ve just been involved in the city,” Marino said. “That’s what got me interested in the city.”
Marino’s two main goals are to streamline the construction and renovation process in the historic district and to improve drainage throughout the district. Marino said he’s seen firsthand how confusing it can be to do construction work in the historic district, and he wants to provide residents with some sort of “stylebook” that outlines the process.
Marino said he’s developed relationships with several elected officials over the years and is well-positioned to seek help for his district and the city as a whole. More importantly, he said, his fellow attorneys have consistently given him high marks for his competency and his ethics over the years.
“Those are all things that will assist me in helping the city,” he said.
Rogers said he got into the race because he thinks Gretna is headed in the wrong direction and because it’s rare for council seats to come open in the city. Rogers said city officials haven’t been listening to residents for a long time, and now it’s time to change that.
“I thought it was time,” Rogers said. “I do have some concerns about Gretna and the direction that it’s headed.”
Rogers claimed Constant has only focused on the needs of residents in the historic district, while he wants to include everyone in the district. Too often, incumbent politicians in the city have ruled through “control and intimidation,” he said, and he supports creating civil service protection and term limits for all city employees.
“I represent actually the blue-collar workers, the middle class, the people who actually get out and work,” he said.