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Inside Jeff Parish 

Broussard Makes Presidential Plans
Almost everyone involved in Jefferson Parish politics is aware of Council Chairman Aaron Broussard's plans to run for parish president this fall. In addition, these same observers recognize that Broussard will be the strong frontrunner in the race for the parish's top job. Nonetheless, Broussard is preparing for opposition and any type of campaign that awaits him. "Like a fighter in training, I need to put myself in position to run a first-class campaign against a first-class opponent," says Broussard, who is finishing his second term as Council chairman and is running for the parish presidency being vacated by the term-limited Tim Coulon.

Currently, Broussard is organizing his campaign office and staff, and he will formally launch his bid for the presidency in April. Broussard's political experience includes a 14-year stint as mayor of Kenner, which he believes was especially good training for the parish presidency. As an example, Broussard cites former Jefferson Parish President Joe Yenni, who initially served as mayor of Kenner.

For the next several months, Broussard will concentrate on fundraising. He currently has approximately $300,000 in his campaign fund, but believes that he will need to at least double that amount if a tough opponent emerges. His next fundraiser is scheduled for Feb. 18 at Carlone's, but his major campaign fundraiser will be held at the Pontchartrain Center on Aug. 17, just before qualifying. In the weeks ahead, Broussard will also make the rounds at such high-profile events as the Washington Mardi Gras Ball and the St. Patrick's Day Parade, where he will serve as grand marshal.

Qualifying for this position is in August; the election will be held in October, with a run-off, if needed, in November.

District Council Race Recap
With all six incumbent Jefferson Parish Council members facing term limits at the end of this term, prospective candidates have started assessing their chances to run for the open positions. As a result of the ballot proposition approved by Jefferson Parish voters in 2002, the six council districts may be reduced to five. The Parish Council is set to begin work on charting new districts; however, any new plan will need Justice Department approval to insure that minority representation is not diluted. Once a plan is submitted, it is not known how long it will take for the Justice Department to review and approve the new districts. Therefore, there may be no change in the parish Council districts for the 2003 elections. Assuming the current six districts remain the same for the upcoming elections, the following is a list of some of the individuals being mentioned as possible candidates:

District 1 is currently represented by Butch Ward. Potential candidates include Tim Witmer, CAO to Parish President Tim Coulon, and Chris Roberts, Jefferson Parish School Board member.

District 2 is currently represented by Lloyd Giardina. Potential candidates include Steve Theriot, Bobby Billiot and Barry Bordelon.

District 3 is currently represented by Donald Jones. Potential candidates include Kenner Council member Marc Johnson; Darryl Ward, who serves as assistant to Parish President Coulon; and state Rep. Kyle Green.

District 4 is currently represented by Ed Muniz. The only potential candidate seriously mentioned to date is Kenner Mayor Louis Congemi.

District 5 is currently represented by John Lavarine Jr. Potential candidates include Vinny Mosca, former mayor of Harahan and present Council member; David Lavarine, son of John Lavarine Jr. and a teacher at Christian Brothers School; community leader Howard Bennett; Jefferson Parish School Board member Libby Moran; and Elton Lagasse, outgoing superintendent of the Jefferson Parish Public School system.

District 6 is currently represented by Nick Giambelluca. The most prominent potential candidate being mentioned to replace him is State Rep. Jennifer Sneed.

Rue In Lieutenant Governor Race
Most of the early media coverage has understandably focused on this year's race for governor; that race will be wide open, with a crowded field jostling for attention, poll numbers and money. Several other statewide offices, however, will also be on the ballot this fall: lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, agriculture commissioner, insurance commissioner and attorney general. (The other statewide position, elections commissioner, is being eliminated as an elected office, with the duties of that office being transferred to the secretary of state.)

In the past few days, a new candidate has emerged in the race for lieutenant governor. Kenner attorney Stephen Rue, well-known for his high profile advertising, will be a Republican candidate. Rue joins several other probable candidates. Democratic State Rep. Melinda Schwegmann of New Orleans has indicated her intent to run for the position that she previously held. In addition, Cajun musician Doug Kershaw has talked to friends about a race, and Baton Rouge Republican and nonprofit executive Kirt Bennett has been aggressively running for many months. Rue has high name recognition and plenty of personal money to spend in a campaign, so he could be a major figure in the race.

Jeff Crouere is the host of Ringside Politics, which airs at noon weekdays on WTIX 690 AM and at 7 p.m. Tue., 9 p.m. Thu., and 7 p.m. Sun. on Cox 10 television. Email jeff@ringsidepolitics.com; visit www.ringsidepolitics.com.

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