Arceneaux tops McConnell in Gonzales mayor’s race; Jackson to be next chief of Gonzales Police

Wade McIntyre
Bridget Bardwell congratulates her brother and Gonzales Mayor-elect Barney Arceneaux during Arceneaux’s election-night party Saturday night at Starlite Espresso Cafe on South Burnside Avenue. Arceneaux was elected with 63.65 percent of the vote over challenger and former parish Councilman Martin McConnell. Arceneaux will succeed long-time Gonzales Mayor Johnny Berthelot, who chose not to seek reelection.

Gonzales elected its first black police chief and a new mayor who was formerly the city’s chief of police.

Mayor-elect Barney Arceneaux sailed into office Saturday with a comfortable 63.65 percent margin over former parish councilman Martin McConnell with 36.35 percent of the vote.

With all ten precincts reporting, Arceneaux received 1,744 votes to 996 for McConnell.

Sherman Jackson was elected police chief by a commanding 67.62 percent margin over Chris M. Anderson who had 32.38 percent. Jackson captured 1,865 voters to 893 for Anderson.

During a jubilant victory party at Starlite Espresso Cafe, a packed crowd of supporters and friends celebrated Arceneaux’s victorious return to elective politics in the parish.

“I’m the daddy of the mayor,” exclaimed Arceneaux’s father, who worked his way through the boisterous throng at Starlite that included members of the city council and Mayor Johnny Berthelot.

Arceneaux thanked what he called his “wonderful crew” and supporters for the win, including his family, consultant John Diaz, Berthelot, and Sheriff Jeff Wiley.

“We have a great city,” he said. “I want to continue working with city councilmen to make it better. This election is not about me, it’s about unity.”

The mayor-elect said he looked forward to meeting all city employees and sitting down with all five council members before January to “get their plans and give them mine.”

Arceneaux also plans to meet with department supervisors so he can be aware of what they are working on and what the city needs to do in order that he can prioritize projects.

Traffic is the top priority, and Arceneaux said Monday he would be looking at synchronizing traffic lights in conjunction with the new turn lanes and road projects underway in town.

“Being located between the largest cities in Louisiana can be both good and bad,” he said. “I think it is mostly good, but added traffic is the bad thing.”

McConnell said he called Arceneaux around 9 p.m. to congratulate and wish him well.

“I pledged my full support,” McConnell said. “I was in this race for the City of Gonzales to help make it a better place and nothing else.”

On Irma Boulevard at the Knights of Columbus Hall, a packed house of Jackson supporters celebrated the election of the first black police chief in city history with a rousing champagne toast.

Jackson thanked the men and women in the police department for their support, saying, “I owe what I am today to Chief (Bill) Landry.”

Jackson, who was raised by his grandmother after his mother died when he was eight months old, told supporters “I was raised by a village, and I hope she (mother) can be proud of me because I made it.”

Jackson said he knocked on 95 percent of the doors in Gonzales while campaigning for police chief. He said Saturday night his first priority will be reorganizing the rank of the police department in order to improve accountability and provide better service.

Another top priority will be looking into moving the department into a new facility.

“We also want to improve the connection between the department and the community,” Jackson said. He said a program would be instituted that will encourage citizens to let the police know about problems before the issues grow to a point where the public is frustrated over 

the problems.

Reached at his home Saturday, Anderson thanked his supporters and the voters who voted for him.

“I called and congratulated Sherman,” he said. “I told him I was really glad he and I ran a good race and there was no dirty politics between us. Sherman and I are were both friends on the force and worked together. I think that was why it was a clean race.”

Gonzales voters also reelected Division A Councilman Kenneth “Kenny” Matassa with nearly 3/4 of the voting total. Matassa received 1,948 votes, or 73.29 percent to 26.71 percent or 710 votes 

for Brad “Plug” Lavine.

Reelected in Division D was Councilman Terance L. Irvin, who received 1,690 votes, or 63.18 percent of the total. Challenger Harold L. Stewart had 985 votes for 36.82 percent.

In Division B, Kirk J. Boudreaux was elected with 1,448 votes or 55.78 percent of the total. Ralph Delatte Jr. pulled in 819 votes, or 31.55 percent, while Gary Lacombe received 329 votes, or 12.67 percent.

Sherman Jackson, who was elected the first black police chief in Gonzales history Saturday, addresses supporters during his election-night gathering at the Knights of Columbus Hall on South Irma Boulevard. Anderson finished ahead of fellow GPD?officer Chris Anderson in Saturday’s primary election. Jackson will take over for the retiring Chief Bill Landry in January.