Jefferson Parish Battleground
in Senate Race
In the primary election on Nov. 5, Sen. Mary Landrieu edged out Suzie Terrell in Jefferson Parish by less than 1,000 votes (48,207 to 47,291). However, John Cooksey and Tony Perkins received a total of 18,846 votes, the vast majority of which will probably go to Terrell in the run-off. Landrieu's percentage in Jefferson (41.5 percent) was her lowest total in the 13-parish southeast section of the state other than in the majority-Republican St. Tammany Parish.
Many experts believed that Landrieu would do better in Jefferson Parish, especially with the support of the major political leadership. Landrieu was endorsed by District Attorney Paul Connick, Sheriff Harry Lee and Council Chairman Aaron Broussard, all Democrats. In addition, in a move that upset Jefferson Parish Republicans, GOP Parish President Tim Coulon also endorsed the incumbent senator, citing her support of multiple parish projects.
The run-off on Dec. 7 will surely be hotly contested in Jefferson Parish, with Terrell needing to win handily in the populous parish. If President George W. Bush visits the state to campaign for Landrieu, look for him to possibly stop in Jefferson Parish, as he did in April 2001 when he visited Zephyr Field.
Capitano Strikes First
Kenner Councilman Phil Capitano has made no secret of his desire to run for mayor of Kenner. For months, Capitano has been meeting with key business and political leaders to discuss his bid for the top post in Kenner. His next step is to discuss his intentions with the voters of Kenner in a letter that will be sent in a few days.
Capitano will be seeking the input of citizens on his intentions to run for mayor, as well as submitting his qualifications for the job. "This will help Phil build grassroots support," says one Kenner insider. "With so many political players jumping around, he needs to let voters know that he has only one goal and that is to be mayor of Kenner."
The current mayor, Louis Congemi, is widely rumored to be interested in running for parish office in the fall of 2003. In fact, Congemi held a fundraiser on Nov. 7 to raise funds for a bid for parish office. He could run for the district council position held by Ed Muniz, who must step down due to term limits, or run for one of the two at-large positions that voters approved on Election Day.
With Congemi looking elsewhere, potential candidates are lining up to run for mayor of Kenner. Along with Capitano, Kenner Police Chief Nick Congemi, Jefferson Parish Councilmembers Muniz and John Lavarine Jr., and Kenner Councilman-at-large Terry McCarthy are all looking at the race. However, several of them are also looking at the new Jefferson Parish Council-at-large position. Capitano, although approached by supporters to run for the Jefferson Parish Council, has only expressed interest in running for mayor of Kenner.
New Alliance for Good Government Leadership
Members of the Jefferson Parish chapter of the Alliance for Good Government recently elected new leadership for the upcoming year. The new president will be Roger Villere Jr., owner of Villere's Florist which has locations in Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes. He has been active for years in the Louisiana Republican Party, serving as a State Central Committee member and National Committeeman. He also ran unsuccessfully for state representative in District 81, in a race that was won by now-Congressman David Vitter.
Joining Villere as officers will be Vice President Ray Baas, Secretary Eric Miller, Treasurer J.P. Tujague, Parliamentarian Robert Marrero, 1-Year Board Member Nikki Lescale and 5-Year Board Member Jack Sassone.
Mad Scramble Begins
The year 2003 will be an exciting year in Jefferson Parish politics. All state legislators will be up for reelection, and there will be seven new positions on the Jefferson Parish Council as well. With term limits being ratified by the voters and a new council structure being approved, none of the present members will be allowed to run for the seat they now occupy.
One district councilmember who will be vacating his seat is Parish Councilman Nick Giambelluca. State Rep. Jennifer Sneed has made no secret of her intention to run for Giambelluca's seat, citing her interest in dealing with local issues that directly impact citizens. With Sneed most likely leaving her state seat, several candidates in the Old Metairie district has expressed interest in replacing her. One of them is John LaBruzzo Jr., territory manager for Applied Medical. LaBruzzo has never run for office before, but is pressing the flesh at political functions and organizing his campaign plan. Another potential candidate could be attorney Ben Slater, who finished second to Sneed in 1999.