St. Charles voters give Laque another term as parish president

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 24, 1999

HAHNVILLE – Albert Laque has been returned to office after losing his last two races for St. Charles Parish president.He edged Russell “Rusty” Rebowe in a nose-to-nose race Saturday for the job.

The inauguration is set Jan. 10, 2000.Laque, 65, a native and resident of Boutte, commented, “I’ve been through it, and I was prepared for the outcome, whatever it was, but I was confident.”Laque received 8,408 votes, or 52.3 percent, compared to Rebowe’s 7,669votes, or 47.7 percent. Laque carried District 4 (his home district) byevery precinct and won in five of seven districts, giving up Districts 3 and 6 to Rebowe.

In District One, Laque won 1,414 votes to Rebowe’s 778 votes. In DistrictTwo, Laque won 1,353 votes to Rebowe’s 1,103 votes. In District Three,Rebowe won 1,729 votes to Laque’s 568 votes.

In District Four, Laque won 1,555 votes to Rebowe’s 437 votes. In DistrictFive, Laque won 1,073 votes to Rebowe’s 838 votes. In District Six,Rebowe won 1,391 votes to Laque’s 795 votes. In District Seven, Laquewon 1,192 votes to Rebowe’s 898 votes. Rebowe also edged Laque in theabsentee balloting, 495 to 458 votes.

During his last try for the position four years ago, Laque lost by a scant 215 votes to incumbent Chris Tregre. This time, Laque bested Rebowe byonly 739 votes.

Laque, son of Jeff and Inez Laque, is a 1952 graduate of Hahnville High School and served in Germany in the U.S. Army. He is married to the formerDorothy Clement, and they have three children, Albert Jr., Terry Ann andLouis, and three grandchildren.

While employed at Shell Oil in Norco, Laque got his first taste of politics when he won election as union chairman in 1960.

“The job only paid $75 a month,” Laque said. “Occasionally, you could dosomething for somebody.” Later, friends in Luling asked him to run for justice of the peace, but he declined and decided instead in 1963 and at the age of 27 to challenge long-time incumbent Johnny Dufrene as Ward Four Police Juror. Despitethe long odds he won, and he was later re-elected in 1967 in the first primary. The district at that time ran the length of U.S. Highway 90, fromMimosa Park to Des Allemands.

He continued working for Shell in that time, 11 years in all, and added, “Shell never asked me to do anything for him, but they were very good when I needed time off.”In 1968, Laque related, “There was no coordinated effort to get things done, so the Police Jury created the job of parish administrator.” Laque stepped into the job and served as Parish Administrator until 1976.

Those were stormy years, when five members of the Police Jury were tried and sentenced on federal bribery charges. Laque was also indictedbut refused to turn state’s evidence against the jurors, (“I didn’t know anything!”) eventually went to trial as an accessory and was found not guilty.

“My mother and brother came to court every day,” he recalled.

After that experience he went to work at DuPont in construction and, from 1984 to 1988, worked for Sheriff Johnny Marino as commander of administrative services.

Laque unsuccessfully ran for Parish President in 1983, then won in 1987 and served from 1988 to 1992. He lost his bid for re-election in 1991 toChris Tregre and narrowly lost his try to unseat Tregre in 1995.

Almost universally known as “Punk,” Laque said he got the nickname from his father as a child. “My daddy gave nicknames to everybody.”He recalled that while running for his first term as Ward Four Police Juror campaigning on the street he encountered a woman who took offense at his nickname.

She told him she couldn’t vote for a “punk,” but he, in a burst of inspiration, reminded her of popular school board member John “Bum” Growl – and got her vote.

Asked about his plans for his administration, he said all positions are open.

“I think I’m better prepared now than when I took office 12 years ago,” Laque said.

He pledged to make the Department of Planning and Zoning “more user friendly,” and he expressed his intention to pursue the West Bank hurricane protection levee and pumps for the East Bank hurricane protection levee.

“I’m looking forward to working with the new council,” Laque added. “Ifthey can’t get along with me, it’s their fault.”And, he concluded, anyone who wants to get in touch with him can join him for his daily morning walk at the West Bridge Park in Luling – at 5:30 a.m.

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