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Fresh off election victory Jeff Perilloux readies for first day as judge Jan. 1

 

LAPLACE — Jeff Perilloux will be a St. John the Baptist Parish judge in less than four weeks.

He assumes the duties of 40th Judicial District Court Division B judge Jan. 1, and that doesn’t leave much time for a learning curve.

Jeff Perilloux

Jeff Perilloux

“I actually have court set on Jan. 3,” Perilloux said. “There is no real time to learn on the job as we go. These next three weeks I am going to spend, frankly, doing as much as I can so the people get exactly what they deserve from me, which will be the very best that I can offer.”

Perilloux said he doesn’t mind the challenge that comes from election victory, capped Saturday night when voters propelled him to the bench over fellow challenger Nghana Lewis Gauff.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office listed Perilloux with 1,812 votes (55 percent), compared to Gauff’s 1,502 votes (45 percent). Included in the total are 491 early votes for Gauff and 455 for Perilloux.

The total votes cast represent just more than 34 percent voter turnout.

That is a significant drop from the Nov. 8 election when more than 5,800 votes were cast and the draw of the presidential election led to more than 66 percent voter turnout. Perilloux and Gauff were the top two vote getters last month, setting up this weekend’s runoff.

Although disappointed with the results, Gauff said she is grateful for the energy her election team put into the initiative. However, she was disappointed with turnout.

“Learning from some people that they weren’t even aware there was a runoff and what you have to do as a result of the runoff, that is a red flag,” Gauff said. “It is certainly something I hope through more civic engagement throughout the year to get more people to become involved.”

According to Gauff, she will remain active in St. John Parish while exploring avenues created with members of the community she didn’t have connections with prior to the campaign process.

“The election is what afforded me the opportunity to build those relationships,” she said.

Perilloux said he has every intention of spending time at the Edgard courthouse over the next three weeks, participating as an observer to get a feel for being on the other side of the bench.

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

The runoff candidates were locked in a tight battle last month, only separated by 41 votes on Nov. 8. That congestion led to hard work right up until polls closed for Saturday’s runoff, Perilloux said.

“I was at peace, honestly, with the decision of the voters,” Perilloux said.

“I was prepared to accept victory or defeat. We spent a lot of time, obviously, trying to get our message out, working with a great group of people in the campaign to spread that message. We were very blessed to have the support of the three sheriffs, which, frankly, I thought was very important, but also so many everyday citizens from St. John who joined us from all walks of life — people who have been here generations, new people, young people, old people.”