St. John voters pick new judge; decide tax elections

Published 9:35 pm Saturday, December 10, 2016

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish voters said yes to a parishwide sales tax increase.

The result was one of numerous ones registered following voting Saturday that impacted the courtroom and taxes for consumers and property owners.

By a tight 4,594 to 4,513 margin, voters approved a St. John the Baptist Parish School Board proposition increasing St. John’s sales tax percentage by .25 percent.

Half the additional revenue is earmarked for salaries and benefits for all permanent school employees and the other half is set for maintaining and repairing school buildings.

Before the election, public school leaders said St. John routinely loses many of its best public school teachers to neighboring districts and the sales tax revenue is needed, in part, to fund overdue pay raises.

Attorney Jeff Perilloux came out on top in the months-long and sometimes heated campaign for 40th Judicial District Court Division B judge.

Sitting Judge Mary Hotard Becnel is departing her seat mid-term this year, leaving an opening on the bench.

Perilloux (55 percent) topped fellow challenger Nghana Lewis Gauff (45 percent) by a 1,812 to 1,502 margin. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, the numbers represented just more than 34 percent voter turnout.

Perilloux has practiced law in St. John Parish since 1994, served as an assistant district attorney for 12 years and has served as legal counsel for St. John the Baptist Parish Government.

Prior to the election, Perilloux said he has lived in St. John Parish his entire life, knows the people well and understands area needs as many seek to improve the quality of life for the region.

“I intend to utilize all of that to the best I can in terms of trying to be the best judge that I can be,” Perilloux said, adding he wants to be an example on the bench and in the community.

Voters agreed to rededicate proceeds from a one-mill tax on property within the parish to improve juvenile justice system services, including home monitoring, housing and transporting juveniles and salaries for system personnel.

J. Sterling Snowdy, 40th Judicial District Court chief judge, wrote to L’OBSERVATEUR readers prior to the election, encouraging them to vote “yes,” stressing it will improve juvenile services.

Voters passed the measure 55 percent (5,042 votes) to 45 percent (4,087).