St. John Parish getting ready for election

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 13, 2010

(Part one of a two-part series)



LAPLACE – With four candidates declaring their intentions to appear on the March 27 ballot, the race is now on to replace former St. John Parish President Bill Hubbard.

Hubbard officially resigned from office in September in the wake of an investigation into bribery charges involving a trio of parish contractors. Hubbard pleaded guilty to all charges and is now awaiting sentencing.

According to the parish’s Home Rule Charter, since Hubbard only served about 20 months of his four-year term, a special election must be called to determine a permanent replacement for the remaining two years. St. John Chief Administrative Officer Pat McTopy was appointed as interim parish president following Hubbard’s resignation.

The primary election is set for Saturday, March 27. The only other issue to appear on the ballot that day is a vote on the renewal of a 1-mill tax to pay for the housing of juvenile offenders.

Following the primary election, a two-candidate runoff will be held Saturday, May 1. The new parish president would then take office by May 15, pending an official vote count and approval from the Louisiana Secretary of State.

Although official qualifying for the race is not until Wednesday, Feb. 3, through Friday, Feb. 5, four candidates have thrown their names into consideration.

First to announce was Division A Councilman-at-Large Richard “Dale” Wolfe of Reserve.

Wolfe, 69, is completing his ninth term on the parish council and has served in public office for 34 years, including several terms as a parish police juror.

St. John Acting Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe has also announced his intentions to run. Boe, 24, a resident of LaPlace, served 18 months as public information officer under Hubbard. Upon Hubbard’s resignation McTopy, serving as acting parish president, appointed Boe as acting CAO.

Boe previously ran for St. John councilman-at-large in 2006 but finished second to current councilman Steve Lee.

Also joining the race is St. John Parish School Board President Gerald Keller of Reserve. Keller, 69, is currently in his fourth term as a member of the St. John Parish School Board.

He is an established author and a lifelong resident of St. John Parish.

Rounding out the major candidates is former St. John Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robottom of LaPlace.

Robottom served four years as St. John CAO under former Parish President Nickie Monica.

She ran for parish president in 2007 and was narrowly beaten out by Hubbard in a runoff election.

Robottom left St. John in 2008 to serve as parish manager for Terrebonne Parish before eventually joining the administration of Governor Bobby Jindal in the Governor’s Office of Community Programs.

Early or absentee voting for the primary election begins Saturday, March 13, and runs through Saturday, March 20. Early voters should be aware that voting will not be conducted on Sunday, March 14.