Qualifying nears for open seats on St. John Parish Council, School Board

Published 12:10 am Saturday, January 7, 2017

LAPLACE — Raj Pannu said a lack of communication between departments in St. John the Baptist Parish Government concerns her, but her confidence in that connection improving comes from the under-construction East Bank government complex.

“I know (Parish staff members) are working hard to get it together,” Pannu said. “With the new building that is being built, I hope most of the departments will be located in the same area, same building, which makes it easier for the flow of paperwork instead of (it being) so far and wide at this time.”

Raj Pannu

Raj Pannu

Pannu, who is serving as the interim District 7 St. John Parish Council representative, reiterated to L’OBSERVATEUR she would not seek the position fulltime when election qualifying gets underway in a few days.

Pannu has sat on the board since the summer following the abrupt departure of elected Councilman Buddy Boe, who resigned his seat to serve fulltime as senior advisor and communications director for Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser.

Pannu said it gives her satisfaction to know she was able to accomplish the requests of local residents, adding community members and parish employees have been very cooperative.

Nia Mitchell

Nia Mitchell


“This is our community and if we don’t help the people in our community, who else is going to do that,” she said. “We need to work together as a team. The most important thing I learned is teamwork. If you are not a team player, you cannot accomplish anything.”

Before her time on the Parish Council, Pannu said she often heard local residents complain that Parish Government doesn’t care about the people.

“I think the Parish understands the needs of the community, and the Parish is working hard and listening to the people,” she said. “It is just sometimes there is miscommunication, and I’m glad to say the Parish Council, as well as Parish officials, are working together, which really makes me proud to be part of this community.”

Those seeking to fill the Parish Council’s District 7 seat can qualify from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday at the St. John Clerk of Court’s Office inside the Edgard Courthouse, 2393 Louisiana 18 in Edgard.

According to Clerk of Court Eliana DeFrancesch, there is a $230 qualifying fee for Democrats or Republicans and a $115 fee for those qualifying under a different party.

Qualifying is also open to those seeking the District 10 St. John Parish School Board seat.

Rodney B. Nicholas stepped down from the seat at the end of 2016 to work as chief deputy of the St. John Parish Assessor’s Office.

The School Board filled the seat temporarily in December by appointing Nia Mitchell as Nicholas’ replacement.

Mitchell told L’OBSERVATEUR she plans to qualify next week and seek the position fulltime.

Those qualifying can pay the fee with cash, money order, certified or cashier’s check.

For more information, call 985-497-3331, Ext. 2122 or log onto stjohnclerk.org.

The elections are scheduled March 25.

The last day to register to vote for the March primary is Feb. 22. Early Voting runs March 11-18.