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Clerk of Court, Melissa R. Henry Qualifies with No Opposition!

After months of speculation on which incumbent candidates would face opposition in the Oct. 12 primaries, the field now is set for statewide and parishwide elections.Qualifying was held Aug. 6-8.

Of the 40 offices up for grabs, 29 will have contests. Eleven victors were named Aug. 8 when only one person registered for the ballot.

St. Tammany Parish will see contests in only two of its five parishwide offices with Assessor Louis Fitzmorris, Clerk of Court Melissa Henry and Coroner Dr. Charles Preston returning to office without opposition.

Parish President Pat Brister, who defeated larger fields of lesser known candidates by huge margins in her previous two elections, faces an opponent with his own winning track record in former two-term Covington Mayor Mike Cooper. Karen Champagne, who has run a distant second to Brister in 2011 and 2015 is running a third time. All are Republicans.

Sheriff Randy Smith’s bid for a second term is being challenged by former Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz and Nick Tranchina in a race that’s been simmering for nearly a year. The three Republicans all spent portions of their law enforcement career in the agency.

The Parish Council will see new faces in at least four seats where the incumbent is not running, although one of them won’t have to go through campaigning: Jake Airey was the only qualifier for the District 13 seat and will replace his wife, Michele Blanchard, who is running for the State House.

Airey will be joined by five incumbents who were returned to office without opposition — Marty Dean in District 1, Mike Lorino in District 4, Chris Canulette in District 8, Maureen O’Brien in District 10 and T.J. Smith in District 14.

Candidates have flocked to the open council seats. In District 3, where longtime incumbent Red Thompson is not running, four people are looking to succeed him, including Martha Cazaubon, Jerry Coner, A.J. Davis and John Martin. In District 7, three are vying to replace Jake Groby, including Jimmie Davis, Carlo Hernandez and Gerrin Narcisse.

A whopping six candidates lined up for the District 9 seat long held by Gene Bellisario. They are Jacqueline Carr, Chuck Lamarche, Jeff Pittman, Peggy Seeley, Mike Smith and Floyd Trascher.

Five council incumbents have opposition.

In District 2, incumbent David Fitzgerald faces Glenn Schurr. In District 5, incumbent Rykert Toledano has been challenged by Terri Lewis Stevens. Eric Lowe is seeking to unseat District 6 incumbent Richard Tanner. James Lyle is challenging long-term incumbent Steve Stefancik in District 11. And in District 12, incumbent Jerry Binder faces two challengers in Belinda Parker-Brown and Dennis Peyroux.

The race that has drawn the most candidates, however, is the Division F seat on the 22nd Judicial District Court, where the retirement of Martin Coady has seven attorneys running for the bench. They include Harold Bartholomew, John Keller, Julie Miramon Knight, Karen Kovach, Vinny Lobello, Laurie Pennison and Kevin Vogeltanz.

The retirement of Slidell City Court Judge Jim Lamz has three candidates running to replace him: Slidell City Attorney Bryan Haggerty, dAndrea McMooain Chatman and Tracey Turgeau Powell.

Four candidates entered the race for the open space on the Louisiana Supreme Court District 1 — First Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Will Crain, Richard Ducote, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Hans Liljeberg and 24th Judicial District Judge Scott Schlegel.

Two lawmakers will return to the Legislature unopposed: Sen. Sharon Hewitt in District 1 and Rep. Paul Hollis in District 104. But in other Legislative races, term limits are creating contests. The departure of longtime Sen. Jack Donahue has drawn three Republican candidates to the District 11 race, including State Rep. Reid Falconer, Covington City Councilman Patrick McMath and Daniel Ducote.

Two candidates are vying for House District 74, where Scott Simon is term limited: Republican Larry Frieman and Democrat Cindy Renee Winch. In District 75, incumbent Democrat Melinda Brumfield White drew a challenger in Republican Phillipp Bedwell.

And in House District 76, where Kevin Pearson is term-limited, two Republicans, Parish Councilwoman Blanchard and Bob Owen, are facing off.

Senate District 12 incumbent Beth Mizell, a Republican, has a challenger in Democrat Darrell Fairburn.

House District 89, which is open because Falconer is seeking the Senate seat, has five candidates: Mandeville Councilman David Ellis, Vince Liuzza, Richard Nelson, Pat Phillips and Erin Feys Powell. Powell is the lone Democrat in the contest.

Two incumbents who were elected to unexpired terms — Mark Wright in House District 77 and Mary DuBuisson in House District 90 — face opposition. Wright, a Republican who was elected to fill John Schroder’s unexpired term, is being challenged by Beverly Johnson, a Democrat.

DuBuission, who was elected late last year to fill the end of Greg Cromer’s term, faces her opponent from last year, fellow Republican John Raymond, as well as Heide Alejandro-Smith, a Libertarian.

Incumbent Jim Garvey drew three opponents for the District 1 seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education — Marion Bonura, Denise Carpenter and Lee Price-Barrios.

St. Tammany Parish voters also will cast ballots in statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, commissioner of agriculture and commissioner of insurance.

Following the Oct. 12 primaries, any necessary runoff elections will be held Nov. 16.

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