Parish Council District 7 race enters its final stretch

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017

LAPLACE — The April 29 election is just around the corner and the two remaining candidates vying for a vacant seat on the St. John the Baptist Parish Council are gearing up for the final stretch.

LaPlace residents Thomas Malik and Steven Fraker will face off for the District 7 seat left vacant when Buddy Boe resigned to serve as senior advisor and communications director to Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.

Local businesswoman Raj Pannu has served in the interim.

Malik and Fraker were the top two vote-getters in the March 25 election, which also included candidate James “Buddy” Duhe. Malik finished ahead in that election with 43 percent of the vote.

St. John Parish voters also are being asked to approve a 7-mill 30-year property tax that will help pay for a proposed hurricane protection levee to be built from St. Charles Parish into parts of St. James.

Some voters also will vote for a new state senator in District 2. There are 13 candidates vying to fill the seat once held by Troy Brown, who resigned in February following allegations of domestic abuse.

Duhe, who finished third in his first run for public office, said he is not giving his endorsement to either candidate.

“I know both of them and either one would do a good job,” Duhe said.

“Both of them are equally qualified.”

Since the March election, Malik said he has continued to pound the pavement to get his message across to residents.

“I’m basically doing what I did for the primary, which is going house to house, knocking on doors, talking to everybody,” Malik said. “I’m reminding them of the date (of the election) and stressing the importance of it.”

Malik said he has been surprised by the number of residents who are undecided, not just in his race, but also on the property tax proposal.

“They are really undecided how they will vote,” Malik said. “There’s quite a few of them who don’t know the property tax mill is even on the ballot.”

Following the March primary, Fraker said he also planned to canvass the neighborhood, promising to be a councilman who would respond to individual concerns and be accountable to residents.

His platform included improving St. John Parish’s water safety and quality, strong police and fire protection, recreation and attracting businesses to the area.

“I look forward to building a positive business environment, growing our economy and creating jobs for our families and friends,” Fraker said.

Early voting runs from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Saturday at the Registrar of Voters offices in the Percy Hebert Building in LaPlace and Edgard Courthouse.

Election Day polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 29 parishwide.