St. John recall vote creates spotlight

Published 11:45 pm Friday, February 27, 2015

The recall effort to remove recently elected St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut made headlines this week, as it was announced mere weeks after her official swearing in Jan. 12.

You wonder how a democratically elected public official could have done something to warrant removal in less than two months.

Yet, the noteworthy layer into this action comes from Dinvaut’s election, as she only faced popular vote once, which took place during the Nov. 4 primary election.

At that time, voters chose between incumbent D.A. Tom Daley and challengers Dinvaut and Geri Baloney.

Daley claimed the lion’s share of the response, securing 46.26 percent of the turnout (7,029 votes), compared to Dinvaut’s 34.31 percent (5,213 votes) and Baloney’s 19.44 percent (2,954 votes).

In essence, 65.7 percent of the people (9,983 residents) who voted in November chose not to back Dinvaut.

In a tragic turn of events, Daley announced his resignation from the election the next week, citing a return of the cancer that eventually led to his passing in January.

Under Louisiana rule, Daley’s resignation meant his challenger in the December runoff, who was Dinvaut, was named the election winner.

State history was made in January when Dinvaut became the first black woman in Louisiana history to be sworn in as an elected district attorney.

It’s conceivable those behind the recall effort could use the circumstances behind November’s election battle as the basis for their removal effort. However, they face an uphill battle.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office maintains signatures on a recall petition must be handwritten and the petition  must be signed by 33.3 percent of qualified voters to become active.

According to the St. John the Baptist Parish Registrar of Voters office, there are just more than 29,000 eligible voters in the parish, meaning the petition would need more than 9,600 signatures for certification. In other words, nearly every single person who voted for Daley and Baloney four months ago would have to sign this petition just to start the path toward a second election.

It’s a major hill to climb, and one that seems premature less than two months into Dinvaut’s term.

However, one thing is certain, the spotlight on the D.A.’s office seems bright right now.