Whitney Joseph makes history while taking assessor post

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2005


Staff Reporter

EDGARD – Whitney Joseph, Jr. took time off from work Thursday morning for a very important task. He had to travel to the St. John Parish Courthouse to make his new job as St. John Parish Assessor official.

In front of Judge J. Sterling Snowdy, many Parish officials, and more than 100 onlookers, Joseph was sworn in during an early morning ceremony. Whitney promised to uphold his responsibilities in this capacity for the next four years.

Although Joseph was elected as Assessor last December, his predecessor Henry Hotard didn’t resign until the end of this year. Bruno Burrell Jr. will replace Joseph as the new Chief Deputy.

Joseph, the first African-American to hold the Assessor’s seat in the Parish, has worked in the Assessor’s office for almost 30 years. His last position before he was elected in December 2003 was serving as Chief Deputy.

“I’m still in awe,” Joseph told L’Observateur shortly before Thursday’s ceremony began. He added that the Assessor’s office will keep the same staff and continue to serve the community in the same manner. The only difference will be the location of his office.

“For many years, I turned right when I entered the building to go to my office,” he laughed. “Now I have to train myself to continue to go straight (to my new office).”

Judge Madeline Jasmine, 40th Judicial Dist., Div. A, began and ended Thursday’s ceremony.

“This is a very, very special day,” said Jasmine. “This is more evidence of God’s great blessings upon us.”

She introduced St. John Parish Sheriff Wayne L. Jones and his department’s Honor Guard, as they Presented the Colors.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem and Opening Prayer, Campaign Committee Member Whitney Jasmin Jr. commented on the ever-increasing number of African-Americans being elected to office.

“In 2004, history was made again. The residents of St. John Parish gave their support and confidence to Whitney Joseph Jr.,” said Jasmin. “He will continue to lead this community in the right direction.”

He added that this mark in history was impressive, especially when putting things into the perspective regarding Joseph’s election. “Where do we fit in? We fit in by making history in a small community, which is 43,044 population at the last census count,” he said.

After the new Assessor was sworn in, he addressed the audience. “This is a very humbling experience for me,” he said. “It goes to show you that you never know what is in store for your life. I thank God for all of this.”

He continued to thank his family and his supporters, and presented his wife and mother each with a bouquet of roses.

Joseph also gave a plaque to his Deputy Assessor-Supervisor/West Bank Eula Young. Young has served with the Assessors office for 33 years, befriending Joseph when he first came to work in her office in 1974.

A reception was held at the old Edgard Fire Station following the ceremony.