Posted on November 4, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Saturday, Nov 19 at 12:03 PM
Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS – State elections officials expect turnout could be below a dismal 20 percent for elections Saturday, for a ballot that includes several hot local races but a lack of any major statewide contests.
For information on the specific ballot for your area, click here.
Polling locations are open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday.
Statewide, there is one constitutional amendment on the ballot. It would prevent new taxes and fees on the sale of real estate. According to the non-partisan government analysis group Public Affairs Research Council, a vote “for” would prohibit the levy of new taxes or fees upon the sale or transfer of immovable property after Nov. 30. A vote “against,” according to PAR, would leave the Constitution silent on the issue, meaning that the Legislature could pass statutes to create new real estate transfer taxes in the future. PAR has an analysis of the amendment on its website.
St. Bernard Parish has some of the most heated local races. Chief Deputy Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann and Councilman Wayne Landry are in a bitter race for sheriff, seeking to replace longtime incumbent Jack Stephens. Parish president Craig Taffaro faces former parish official David Peralta in the runoff. Longtime clerk of court Lena Torres also faces a re-election challenge from Randy Nunez. Reed Henderson and Jaylynn Turner are vying to replace St. Bernard assessor Marlene Vinsanau, who is not seeking re-election. There are also five council runoffs on the ballot in the parish.
In Orleans Parish, voters will decide between Clare Jupiter and Nakisha Ervin-Knott, who made it into the runoff for a seat on the Civil District Court bench. There is also a hot race for the District 2 seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, with incumbent Louella Givens facing a strong challenge from educator Kira Orange Jones.
There is also a proposition on the Orleans Parish ballot which would change the makeup of the embattled New Orleans Public Belt Railroad. The measure on the ballot would cut the railroad’s board from 16 members serving 16-year terms to nine members, serving four-year terms.
Runoffs for several seats in the state legislature are on the ballot across the metro area, including in the Houma and Hammond areas, St. Charles, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. John Parishes.
In Jefferson Parish, there is a runoff between Mark Spears and Cedric Floyd, for the District 3 seat on the parish council. Both men are vying to replace Byron Lee, who is term-limited.
In Kenner, there are also important tax renewals on the ballot. Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni has said the renewals are critical to maintaining sewerage, garbage and fire services, especially since voters soundly rejected a package of new taxes earlier this spring.
St. Tammany Parish voters will decide whether to keep incumbent Patricia Schwarz Core as their assessor, or elect Abita Springs Mayor Louis Fitzmorris to the post. There is also a District 7 council runoff in St. Tammany, and two tax millage proposals.
There is also an unusual tax vote in Mandeville tomorrow, where voters will decide if they want to reword a sales tax.
The one-cent sales tax funds roughly three-quarters of the budget of the police department, according to Chief Rick Richard.
The tax was originally passed in 1959, when there was no Mandeville Police Dept., so technically the city has been improperly spending the money on police protection for the last few decades.
A “yes” vote changes the wording to allow the city to use the money on its police force.
It's a permanent tax, so regardless of the outcome people will still pay the same amount. But officials said the rewording is crucial to their operation.
Plaquemines Parish voters will elect a new sheriff for the first time in decades. Bill Bubrig and Lonnie Greco made the runoff, vying to replace embattled former sheriff Jiff Hingle. There is also a sheriff’s runoff in Washington Parish, as well as two parish council runoffs.
Lafourche Parish voters will also decide whether to keep their incumbent parish president, Charlotte Randolph, or elect businessman Jimmy Cantrelle to that post.
There is a clerk of court runoff in St. Charles Parish as well as council races in St. John the Baptist, Tangipahoa and Terrebonne. Terrebonne voters will also elect an assessor.
Eyewitness News will begin airing election results at the bottom of the screen at 8 p.m. and then have full coverage on Eyewitness News NightWatch at 10 p.m. on Channel 4.