Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Despite a low-key contest for governor, the last few days of the fall campaign have picked up, and a higher than expected number of early votes cast may mean higher turnout Saturday for state and local elections.
Click here for a sample ballot for your area and voting information.
Gov. Bobby Jindal faces nine opponents in his re-election bid, though none have previous elected experience or any serious fundraising efforts to speak of. The race for lieutenant governor has drawn much more interest, with Republican incumbent Jay Dardenne in a heated race against fellow Republican Billy Nungesser, the incumbent Plaquemines Parish President.
Other statewide contests include the race for Secretary of State (between Republicans Tom Schedler and Jim Tucker) and races for Agriculture Commissioner and Insurance Commissioner, with incumbents in those offices facing candidates who are largely political unknowns.
Many state legislative seats will be decided, along with races for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The BESE races have drawn stronger than usual interest, being portrayed as an important indication of the direction of the next chapter for school reforms in the state.
Many state legislative contests will be worth watching, because of redistricting due to the 2010 census. For example, incumbents John LaBruzzo and Nick Lorusso will face off for the newly-drawn District 94 seat; J.P. Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis are in a heated battle for Senate District 3; and A.G. Crowe and Nita Hutter will face off in Senate District 1. There are other legislative races across the area.
Three Jefferson Parish council seats are on the ballot. Three candidates are vying to replace the term-limited Louis Congemi in District 4. The District 3 race includes former councilman Donald Jones as one of four candidates running to replace Byron Lee. He faces Jefferson Parish School Board member Cedric Floyd, activist George Peterson and candidate Mark Spears.
The Disrict 1 race on the West Bank features two candidates: Michael O’Brien and Ricky Templet. One will replace Chris Roberts, who was elected to a council at-large position.
Jefferson Parish voters will also consider measures to create and fund a new Inspector General’s office. The first measure would set up the inspector general's office. Voters in all parts of the parish, even incorporated areas such as Kenner, Harahan and Gretna, will vote on that issue. The second ballot item, to be considered by voters only in unincorporated parts of the parish, would shift funds from a streetlight program to pay to run the IG's office.
Also, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand faces one challenger: Joey Istre III, a licensed private investigator.
Orleans Parish voters will decide on judgeships at Civil Court, Traffic Court and Criminal District Court. Many of those judicial races have seen candidates wage heated media campaigns against each other.
Lakeview residents are also considering a special tax for street repairs. There is also a tax renewal being considered for the controversial New Orleans Regional Business Park.
In St. Bernard, parish president Craig Taffaro will face three challengers, but much of the attention has been on the race for sheriff, with four candidates hoping to replace longtime Sheriff Jack Stephens. They are: Chad Clark, Chief Deputy Sheriff "Jimmy" Pohlmann, Councilman Wayne Landry and Barry Bernadas. There are also parish council races to be decided.
Seven candidates signed up to run for St. Bernard assessor, hoping to replace Marlene Vinsanau, who announced she would not seek re-election. Longtime clerk of court Lena Torres is also seeking re-election in what could be a tight race.
Five candidates are running to replace term-limited St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis. Council races are also being decided, and St. Tammany Parish assessor Patricia Schwarz Core faces five challengers. The Clerk of Court and Coroner’s elections are also on the ballot, as well as several tax measures.
Other local races of interest include a contest for Plaquemines Parish sheriff, which includes five candidates vying to replace Jiff Hingle, who resigned amid federal corruption charges.
There is also a charter change on the ballot which would mean changes to the operating procedures for the Plaquemines Parish port and parish attorney’s office, placing both under control of the parish president. A separate measure will ask voters to consider moving the official parish seat from Pointe a la Hache to Belle Chasse.
In St. Charles Parish, incumbent Parish President V.J. St. Pierre faces a challenge from Billy Raymond.
St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom faces a challenge from 2 candidates, including former president Nickie Monica.
Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess faces a strong re-election challenge from councilman Carlos Notariano of Hammond. Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards faces two challengers in his bid for re-election.
Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph faces three challengers. Council races are also on the ballot in Lafourche.
In Terrebonne, incumbent president Michel Claudet has four challengers. Former sheriff Jerry Larpenter is one of four candidates seeking to replace Vernon Bourgeois, who opted not to seek another term.
Voters in Plaquemines, St. John, St. Tammany and St. Bernard parishes will consider a proposal to double the homestead exemption for disabled veterans and their spouses.
There are also five state constitutional amendments on the ballot. The most high-profile would redirect annual proceeds from the tobacco settlement to the TOPS college scholarship fund. Other amendments, according to the Public Affairs Research Council, would establish new rules for certain government funds, including two state retirement systems, the Patient’s Compensation Fund and the “Rainy Day” Fund.
The non-partisan group has released an analysis of them. Click here to read PAR’s report.
The non-profit, non-partisan research group Bureau of Governmental Research also released a report on the amendments, with its recommendations.
Eyewitness News will have live election coverage Saturday beginning at 8 p.m. on Channel 4, with reports from the major candidates' headquarters, election returns in more than 190 races statewide and analysis from Clancy DuBos and Greg Rigamer.