Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief

TANGIPAHOA, La. -- With election day now less than three weeks away, a longtime parish president is taking on a longtime parish councilman.

It's one of the Northshore's best races, and two familiar names are fighting it out for Tangipahoa Parish president.

Just the two of them jumped in the race, so there cannot be a runoff.

Voters will decide between 25-year incumbent Gordon Burgess and 12-year Parish Councilman Carlos Notariano.

Both candidates are confident that they'll win, but both candidates predict a close race. And the geography of Tangipahoa Parish will play a role.

The northern half of the parish is rural. Burgess figures to be stronger here.

The southern half, Hammond and Ponchatoula, are booming. Notariano represented the Hammond area on the council.

'Parish government that's under my authorization, we have no debt,' Burgess said.

Burgess said Tangipahoa Parish has never been in better shape financially.

Notariano believes the parish can do better.

'We want to be a player on the Northshore, and quite frankly, in a lot of areas, we're just not,' Notariano said.

In the 2010 census Tangipahoa's population grew by more than 20 percent, but Notariano said the parish is not bringing in the kind of jobs neighboring parishes are bringing in.

'We've got so much to offer here, and quite frankly, we are not doing what it takes to attract these businesses to Tangipahoa Parish,' he said. 'We've been in a minimum-wage frame of mind for a long time and we've got to get out of that frame of mind.'

Burgess said, 'We're the fourth fastest growing parish. Other people say Livingston and St. Tammany are running over us - they're not.'

Ultimately that's the question voters will decide.

Either way the growth in Tangipahoa Parish is not expected to slow down this decade.

Early voting in this race and in all others on the October ballot starts Saturday.

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