Election qualifying starts Wednesday; Parish Council race pushed to 2017

Published 12:04 am Saturday, July 16, 2016

LAPLACE — Qualifying is next week for Nov. 8’s Presidential and Congressional Primary Election, but area voters looking for a string of local elections could be surprised at the voting lineup.



Previously suggested Nov. 8 political battles for St. John the Baptist Parish Council and a local sales tax are not scheduled, leaving a special election to replace Judge Mary Hotard Becnel and the Justice of the Peace District 4 election as the only 100 percent St. John-based docket items.

Becnel is stepping down as 40th Judicial District Court Division B Judge, leaving open the door to any number of candidates willing to serve out the remainder of her term, which is scheduled to end in 2021. She is retiring, in part, to spend more time with her husband, Daniel Becnel Jr., who became ill late last year. Her last day as judge is Dec. 31.

To qualify for the 40th Judicial District Court judge’s race, there is a $300 fee for parties other than Democrat or Republican and a $600 fee for Democrat or Republican qualifiers.

Potential candidates must have practiced law in Louisiana for at least eight years prior to election, lived in the district for one year before the election and are not permitted to practice law while in office.

Qualifying for the judge’s election is 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday at the St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court’s office in the Edgard courthouse.

The election is Nov. 8 and a runoff, if needed, is scheduled Dec. 10. Early voting for Nov. 8’s election is Oct. 25 though Nov. 1.

Becnel last won reelection in November 2014, earning 81.16 percent of the vote, with 3,098 votes cast her way.

Becnel has worked in the legal system for more than 40 years, starting out as a secretary and court reporter before working her way through school to become a lawyer — and ultimately — a judge.

Qualifying fees for Justice of the Peace candidates are $75 for parties other than Democrat or Republican and $150 for Democrat or Republican.

Candidates must be 69 or younger by Wednesday, a district resident and possess a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Parish Council

St. John Parish voters, especially those in Parish Council District 7, who anticipated voting for a permanent replacement following the resignation of Buddy Boe are going to have to wait.

Parish and state officials said information wasn’t submitted in time to schedule an election this year, meaning the race to replace Boe is scheduled March 25, 2017, with a runoff, if needed, slated for April 29, 2017.

Boe resigned as District 7 representative June 14 to take a position as senior advisor and communications director to Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. Boe was elected to the Council in October 2015 with 63 percent of the vote.

Business owner Raj Pannu was sworn in as the interim District 7 Council member June 28. Pannu, who will hold the seat until a special election is completed, has repeatedly said she is not seeking election as the full-time replacement.

Tax vote

St. John the Baptist Parish School Board members have made known their intentions to discuss a possible sales tax increase proposal this summer.

Should School Board members ultimately take the issue to voters, the earliest it can be decided is Dec. 10.

A St. John Clerk of Court spokesperson said the School Board must submit its election intentions by Oct. 25 to see their proposal on the Dec. 10 election docket.

School Board members plan to take up the issue again in August.