State representative candidate’s Garyville address sparks legal challenge

Published 4:10 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with “Ali” Burl’s response to the candidacy challenge.

EDGARD — Candidates vying for the Louisiana House of Representatives District 57 in the River Parishes have asked the local court to disqualify one of their competitors.

Attorney Sylvia Taylor and former St. John Parish School Board member Russ Wise are challenging the candidacy of Albert “Ali” Burl, who they allege lives outside of District 57. A hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, August 21 through the 40th Judicial District Court.

Burl qualified for the October 14 election last Thursday, citing his residence as P.O. Box 593 in Garyville and his official domicile as 298 Historic East Street in Garyville.

There are currently eight candidates running for Louisiana House of Representatives District 57, a seat that has been held by Randal Gaines for the past 11 years. The current district lines, which went into effect on January 9, 2023, encompass parts of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes.

According to the House of Representatives District maps on Ballotpedia, Garyville and Mt. Airy became part of District 58 on January 9, 2023. District 81 previously included Garyville and now stops at Gramercy.

Burl currently holds the District 2 seat on the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board. Wise, one of the candidates challenging Burl’s candidacy, served alongside him for several years.

“I’ve known Ali for years and served with him on the School Board,” Wise said, “but the law is clear. He’s living outside the district and doesn’t qualify as a candidate.”

Taylor had no comment when L’OBSERVATEUR contacted her Thursday afternoon.

District 57 candidate Shondrell Perrilloux was out of town during the allotted time period to file candidacy challenges but has spoken out about Burl’s alleged ineligibility for the District 57 seat.

“I have expressed for numerous years there is public corruption in St. John Parish. This is a prime example of arrogancy for (Burl) to acknowledge that he doesn’t reside in District 57 and to run to represent a district he does not reside in,” she said.

Perrilloux commended Taylor for having the courage and integrity to stand up to injustice.

Earlier this week, Burl confirmed that he lives in Garyville during a phone interview with WWL-TV. In a statement sent to L’OBSERVATEUR Thursday evening, Burl referred to Taylor and Wise’s challenge as “frivolous.”

In a response to the challenge Thursday evening, Burl pointed to a provision in the law that states, “Following legislative apportionment, an elector may qualify as a candidate from any district created in whole or in part from a district existing prior to reapportionment if he was domiciled in that prior district for at least one year immediately preceding his qualification and was a resident of the state for the two years preceding his qualification.”

Burl’s response to the challenge included the following: “Additionally, the candidates should have known that Act No. 1 of the 2011 First Extraordinary Session of the Legislature included portions of St. John the Baptist Parish in House District 81. Furthermore, after the 2020 redistricting of House Districts, ACT No. 4 of the 2022 First Extraordinary Session of the Legislature, House District 57 was created in whole or in part from House District 81 which existed prior to apportionment, and which Mr. Burl was domiciled for at least one year.”

Burl added that he looks forward to his day in court and “will request attorney’s fees for defending this frivolous suit.”

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, candidacy challenges must occur by 4:30 p.m. on the seventh day after the qualifying period closes. Had Burl’s candidacy not been challenged prior to 4:30 p.m. August 17, he would have remained on the ballot for the election regardless of whether he meets the qualifications for District 57.

Election Day is October 14, and early voting is scheduled for September 30 through October 7, excluding Sunday, October 1.

More information regarding Burl’s qualifications for District 57 will be shared following Monday’s hearing.