Early voting in runoff begins this weekend

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2010



LAPLACE – Starting Saturday, St. John the Baptist Parish residents can begin casting early ballots in the runoff election for parish president.

St. John Parish Registrar of Voters’ offices on both sides of the Mississippi River will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for early voting in the May 1 runoff between Natalie Robottom and Richard “Dale” Wolfe. The office will be open every day except Sunday. Early voting ends April 24.

Betty Madere, St. John registrar of voters, said Tuesday that turnout for early voting in the primary election was very high, and she is expecting to see similar or even higher numbers this week.

“I think we will be just as busy this time around,” Madere said.

The runoff winner will take office in May and serve out the remaining two years on former Parish President Bill Hubbard’s first term in office. Hubbard resigned in September before pleading guilty in federal court to taking bribes from three parish contractors. Sentencing in his case is set for June 29 in New Orleans.

Robottom, a former chief administrative officer for St. John and a resident of LaPlace, received 36 percent of the vote to lead the field in the primary election back in March. Wolfe, a Reserve resident who serves on the Parish Council, finished second with 22 percent of the vote. Both candidates are registered Democrats.

Despite what Madere said, Robottom, who has been very active on the campaign trail since the primary election, said Tuesday that many residents she has talked to in the parish had thought the election was already over with the March 27 results.

“Many have asked us why we are still out here campaigning,” Robottom said. “Many don’t realize that there is still a runoff election next month.”

Robottom said she is in communication with the St. John Clerk of Court and Registrar of Voters offices to see what they can do to make the public more aware of the upcoming runoff.

Both Wolfe and Robottom have also begun to receive public endorsements from an assortment of parish leaders.

Wolfe announced Monday he has the endorsement of fellow primary candidate Perry Bailey of Edgard. Bailey, a former parish councilman, finished last in the primary and received 2 percent of the vote.

In a release through Wolfe’s campaign, Bailey called Wolfe “the right choice and the right person at the right time.” He said he has had a good working relationship with Wolfe in the past and that Wolfe “supports good projects and services for citizens.” Both men served on the parish council together between 1996 and 2000.

Officials with Wolfe’s camp also said Monday that they have had conversations with the two other candidates in the race and that they are confident they will also receive their endorsements. Buddy Boe, who finished third in the race, said Tuesday that he is not prepared to make a firm statement on an endorsement for either side. Gerald Keller, who finished fourth, could not be reached for comment.

Robottom said Tuesday that she has received firm endorsements from St. John Parish Sheriff Wayne Jones and Assessor Whitney Joseph. Both Jones and Joseph said Robottom’s experience in government on a parish and state level makes her the right candidate to lead the parish.

To be eligible for early voting, residents should bring their driver’s license or a picture ID to the Percy Hebert Building, 1801 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace, or to the St. John Parish Courthouse, 2393 River Road in Edgard.