NEW ORLEANS — Current Sheriff Marlin Gusman and his long-serving predecessor, Charles Foti, will be in a runoff for that office after Gusman failed to reach the 50 percent - plus one - mark needed to avoid that second campaign.
At night's end, with all precincts reporting, Foti had forced a runoff with incumbent Marlin Gusman, who less than an hour earlier in the evening spoke of what’s left for him to do as sheriff.
Gusman, the incumbent, who earned 49 percent of the votes cast, was pushed into a runoff with Foti, the former sheriff, who totaled 29 percent. The runoff will be held March 15.
“We have a whole lot to do over these next four years,” said Gusman, who has served as sheriff the past 10 years. “We’re going to work hard at it. I’m going to make sure that we listen to the people and that we continue to move forward with the confidence that what we’re doing is right."
Gusman took over in 2004 after Foti was elected to the state’s attorney general office. But Foti, 76, said he decided it was time to return to bring respect back to the city’s sheriff’s office.
Gusman’s leadership was front and center the past few years as videos surfaced of inmates at the Orleans Parish Prison brandishing guns, drinking beer, injecting needles and gambling.
Additionally, a federal consent decree, a binding agreement to reform the jail, has been thrust upon the city.
“Maybe having guns in jail is not important to some people,” Foti said. “Maybe smoking crack in jail is not important to some people. Maybe not seeing it is important. Maybe if you shut your eyes, it goes away. But nothing really goes away if we don’t address it properly, it becomes worse.”
In his election night speech, Foti expressed an objective to have inmates improve after their time in jail.
“The Sheriff’s Office is not just an office – it’s a community resource,” Foti said. “It is a resource for which we serve the community.”
Gusman, meanwhile, expressed a positive outlook on the future of the sheriff’s office under his control.
“Our long journey to build a safe, modern, secure facility is about to be realized,” Gusman said. “In the next few months, we’re going to open that facility and everybody will really see the progress that we’ve been working on.”