Nov. 4 election brings new faces to leadership, adopts new laws

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley
Ascension poll lines varied through out on Nov. 4, however some made sure their voices were heard with a simple vote.

The Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler reported Wednesday morning the final results of the Nov. 4 election were tallied.

In the 23rd Judicial District, which consists of Ascension, Assumption and St. James Parishes, there will be two new faces in the courts:  in Division A Jason Verdigets beat O’Neil Parenton, 57 percent to 43 percent; and Tess Percy Stromberg beat Bruce Unangst in all three parishes to win election to Division C.  Stromberg got 61 percent of the vote in Ascension and did even better in Assumption (66 percent) and St. James (71 percent).

Five Ascension School Board seats were contested on Tuesday.  

The District 1 race ended with a runoff between Robyn Penn Delaney, who received 33 percent of the votes and Jevella Williamson with 21 percent. The runoff election date is set for Dec. 6.

Julie Blouin was elected in District 3 with 51 percent of the vote against Nathaniel “Nat” Stephens.

Kerry Diez received 66 percent of the vote against two challengers to retain his District 4A seat. 

John Murphy tallied 60 percent of the vote to beat Steve Barrow in District 4B. 

Lorraine Wimberly garnered 75 percent of the votes to defeat Denise Bruno in District 6.

All three of Ascension’s Justice Courts saw contested elections.  In the west bank’s 1st Justice Court Andrew Falcon beat Charles Brown, after an initial error. In the Constable’s election for the same court Andrew “Banana” LeBlanc garnered 54 percent of the votes to beat Leana Chatman.

Leroy Laiche, Jr. beat “Pam” Alonso in the 2nd Justice Court.  John C. Hebert beat Lynelle Johnson for 3rd Justice Court.

The proposed parish-wide ten-year, 10 year, 5-mill property tax to fund recreation in Ascension was soundly defeated garnering 62 percent of parish voters saying no. The property tax would have improved the parish’s existing parks and build a new recreation complex at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and a new performing arts center.

The tax, which would have been the first dedicated recreation tax for Ascension Parish government, would have provided $58 million over 10 years.

A ten-year, 10-mill tax proposed for Fire District No. 3 in Ascension’s northwest corner was adopted comfortably with 56 percent of voters in the Prairieville area agreeing to pass the property tax.  It is a renewal of the 10-mill assessment, which is set to expire in early 2015.  Fire District No. 3 has received 20 mills since a separate 10 mills was adopted in 2012.

Sorrento voters decided after more than a year of embarrassment to abolish the town’s police department, but keep the Police Chief.

Louisiana added another six amendments to the 175 it already has to the 1974 State Constitution.  Ascension voters’ numbers didn’t show favor for all that were passed, but supported proposition seven, eight and 10.

No. 7 doubles the $75,000 homestead exemption for veterans classified with a “100 percent un-employability rating.”  The increased exemption already applies to veterans classified with “100 percent service-connected disability.”  Seventy-two percent of Ascension voted in favor.

No. 8 prevents revenue from being diverted from Louisiana’s Artificial Reef Development Fund.  It garnered 57 percent approval statewide compared to 54 percent in Ascension.

No. 10 passed with 54 percent statewide, with 51 percent Ascension voters in favor.  It decreases, from three years to 18 months, the time allowed for a delinquent taxpayer to redeem property prior to Sheriff’s sale.  When an investor pays the delinquency he gets a tax certificate and if the property is not redeemed by the owner within the applicable redemption period, the investor can be adjudicated owner. When no private investor pays tax delinquencies, municipalities are placed in the position to be adjudicated owner.

Propositions 1, 2 and 6 also became law.

 No. 1 and No. 2 are related to medical trust funds for nursing homes and hospitals, respectively.  Nursing homes are assessed annual fees, which are placed in the trust fund that generate federal matching funds. Louisiana has utilized the funds for other purposes in the past.  Passage of No. 1 prohibits diversion of the funds in trust upon its operative date.

No. 2 creates a Hospital Trust Fund, which will operate in the same manner as No. 1.  Both amendments were adopted with 56 percent of the vote statewide compared to 48 percent and 47 percent in Ascension Parish.

No. 6 allows Orleans Parish raise the cap on millage devoted to police and fire protection from 5 to 10 mills but just barely, 51 percent to 49 percent.