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Election season: Who’s running? – Qualifying less than 3 months away

LAPLACE — With an Oct. 12 election date to decide St. John the Baptist Parish’s most influential leaders looming overhead, Parish Council incumbents have been mostly tight-lipped on their plans for office.

L’OBSERVATEUR reached out to the seven District-specific Council members and the two at-large representatives in recent days to gauge where they are in the decision-making process.

Of those who have made decisions, some are running for re-election to their current seat. Others are deliberating a run to replace term-limited Natalie Robottom for the all-impactful parish president’s position.

In order to appear on this fall’s ballot, candidates must first qualify during the summer window from Aug. 6-8.

Parish Council seats can be held for two full election cycles before the public official is termed out, meaning the elected leader must run for a different position.

That could include an at-large role representing one half of St. John Parish.

District 1 Councilman Kurt Becnel said he is “most definitely” running for re-election.

“I am running again, but I will make an official announcement in two weeks,” Becnel said.

Becnel began his first term in 2016 following a run-off victory over Lester Smith.

District 2 Councilwoman Julia Remondet told L’OBSERVATEUR she intends to run for re-election to her current seat, representing parts of Reserve, Garyville and Mt. Airy.

Remondet, a retired St. John Parish economic development director, began her first Parish Council term in 2016 when she topped incumbent Ranney Wilson nearly two-to-one.

District 3 Councilman Lennix Madere Jr. is in his last year of his second term in office and cannot run for re-election in his current position.

Madere was not quite ready to share his election plans early this week, though he plans to release an official announcement on Saturday.

Madere secured his second District 3 term in 2015 when he claimed 74 percent of the vote against challenger Lionel Dennis.

District 4 Councilman Marvin Perrilloux is also termed out for his seat, and has a big decision ahead of him.

“By the weekend, I should make a decision whether I’m running for councilman at large or parish president,” Perrilloux said.

Perrilloux secured his second term in 2015. He was the only Council member to run unopposed.

District 5 Councilman Michael Wright, also term limited, made the choice he felt would best accommodate his growing career while allowing him to serve the people of St. John the Baptist Parish.

“I will be in the Division B at-large race this fall,” Wright said.

In an emailed statement, he outlined his plans for the position.

“The next four years will be vital to the future of St. John with construction of the West Shore Hurricane Protection Levee underway and the influx of additional revenue,” Wright said. “A strong focus on capital projects, such as drainage and utility systems, should be a key factor in the next term’s leadership.”

Wright secured his second term three years ago with a victory over Dwayne Francis.

District 6 Councilman Larry Snyder is term-limited and cannot run for re-election in his current position. He proved himself a trusted leader in the 2015 election by securing 74 percent of the vote over challenger Jerry Wilson Jr.

For now, Snyder is looking to his family for guidance.

“I really haven’t found out what they want me to do and what I feel like I need to do,” Snyder said.

Snyder is supporting his nephew, Warren Snyder, who announced he would be seeking the vacant District 6 seat.

“He asked me a while back if he should run for it, and I told him go for it,” Snyder said. “He would be great at it. He’s a family man. He has good values. He’s got a couple of young kids in the parish. He’s involved with a lot of things, and he’s a Christian himself. He’s a good person for the job because he cares.”

District 7 Councilman Thomas Malik did not respond to L’OBSERVATEUR’s request for comment this week.

In March, Malik shared with The Advocate his plans to run for St. John Parish President.

Malik has had the shortest run on the Council; in March 2017, he won a special election to fill the District 7 vacancy left by Buddy Boe, who departed for a position with Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s office.

Division B at-large Councilwoman Jaclyn Hotard Gaudet has been on the Parish Council for 16 years. Half of that time has been in an at-large capacity.

“After recently completing a rigorous second year of law school, I can now shift my focus to making a formal decision regarding the upcoming election,” Hotard Gaudet said in an emailed statement. “I am strongly considering entering the race for Parish President and am receiving encouragement and support from a broad cross section of the Parish. I have been humbled and honored serving the people of St. John and will make my final decision in the next few weeks.”

Division A at-large Councilman Larry Sorapuru Jr. announced his plans to run for re-election earlier this month.

“I’m seeking re-election for Councilman-at-Large because I believe that the people of Division A deserve sincere, transparent and effective parish government,” Sorapuru said in his official statement.

Sorapuru had no further comment when reached this week.

A Nov. 16 run-off election will take place should no candidate receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the Oct. 12 primary.