Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
Julie Stokes defeated three other Republican candidates in a special election Saturday for House District 79. She will succeed Tony Ligi as state representative for the district, representing parts of Metairie and Kenner.
Complete but unofficial returns from the Secretary of State's office showed Stokes winning, with 56 percent of the vote. Jack Rizzuto trailed with 33 percent, followed by Allison Brent Bowler with 9 percent and Paul Villalobos with just 2 percent.
Stokes and Rizzuto had engaged in a heated campaign in recent days, with campaign materials from each questioning the other’s qualifications.
Stokes, a certified public accountant and chief financial officer/chief administrative officer for her family’s rehabilitation and life-coaching business, touted the endorsement of Jefferson Parish President John Young and District Attorney Paul Connick.
Rizzuto, a business owner who has run for the District 79 seat before, touted the endorsements of Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway as well as Mayor Mike Yenni and well-known state lawmakers Sen. John Alario and Sen. Danny Martiny.
Stokes will take office in time for this year's legislative session, which begins next month. She will serve the remainder of Ligi's term, which ends in 2016. He resigned to take a position with the Jefferson Business Council.