Council chairwoman, political newcomer battle for at-large seat
Kyle Barnett - May 01, 2014
St. Charles Parish voters will head back to the polls on Saturday to decide the parish’s next at-large council member from the West Bank. Candidates Jarvis Lewis, 24, and District VII Councilwoman Julia Fisher-Perrier, 33, will face off in the runoff election.
Lewis, a Democrat, nearly captured the seat with 47 percent of the vote during the April 5 primary, while Republican Fisher-Perrier garnered 38 percent of the vote. Des Allemands resident Stanley Hebert, an independent, was knocked out of consideration after only receiving 15 percent of votes cast.
Because the renewal of a 10-year millage for St. Charles Parish Hospital is also on the ballot, more voters should turn out for the runoff election. While only 636 residents voted early for the April 5 primary, 1,126 voted early this time around.
Out of the early voters, 636 are registered as Democrats while 350 are registered as Republicans. The rest of the early voters claimed no party affiliation.
Fisher-Perrier said she believes the higher vote tally is due to two factors.
“I’d probably say the additional early vote can be accounted for me getting out on the streets a little more this time paired with (the hospital millage) on the ballot,” she said.
Since nearly losing the first election, Fisher-Perrier has spent a lot of time speaking with voters one-on-one.
“I’ve been in their houses, garages and front doorsteps. Hopefully they see that I am here to serve the parish,” she said.
Since the race first began, Lewis said he has spent four to five hours per day knocking on doors and has personally spoken to thousands of voters. He said he has heard firsthand what those residents would like the St. Charles Parish Council to focus on.
“I am feeling pretty good about it. People are enthusiastic and are really getting behind the campaign,” Lewis said. “I am doing the same thing I did the first time, which is getting out there and talking to people. When you want to serve, you are supposed to run (for office) the way you intend to govern.”
Lewis said his chances of winning the runoff are pretty good. After receiving more votes in the primary, Lewis said he is continuing to gain support.
“I’ve run across a number of people who have said, ‘We’ve definitely got you this time,’” he said.
Fisher-Perrier and Lewis both say that hurricane protection is the most pressing issue facing the parish.
Additionally, Fisher-Perrier plans a comprehensive traffic plan for the Highway 90 corridor and will focus on improving drainage plans.
Lewis wants to work with state leaders to get roads in the parish up to driving standards, help institute a paid fire department and be a voice for sound spending.
Lewis is nearly 10 years younger than Fisher-Perrier and has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Xavier University. He has served on local political campaigns and is an appointee to the parish’s Library Board.
Before running for the at-large seat, Lewis was employed as an assistant deputy in St. Charles Parish Assessor Tab Troxler’s office, a position he resigned from in order to run for the seat.
“I’ve enjoyed the experience thus far. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity and the reception I’ve received. The people I’ve met are wonderful. The word is getting out and I am excited to see what it brings,” Lewis said.
Fisher-Perrier is a wife and mother who works as an insurance agent at Riverlands Insurance Services Inc. in Luling. She studied political science and pre-law at the University of New Orleans. Fisher-Perrier was selected to replace outgoing District VII council member Dennis Nuss in December 2012 before running unopposed in the next election.
Fisher-Perrier feels that she is the best choice due to her council experience, which includes serving as chairwoman of the council in addition to chairwoman of the Hurricane Protection Projects Committee. She is also a member of the parish’s Levee Focus Team, St. Charles’ Hazard Mitigation Plan Committee, the Police Jury Association and the Republican Women of St. Charles.
She has sponsored 48 pieces of legislation since 2012. Fisher-Perrier said her experience gives her a chance to better represent the parish.
“Hopefully the relationships I’ve built with senators, congressmen and the DOTD gives me access to the voices in those higher bodies to work towards a common goal,” she said.
If Fisher-Perrier wins the runoff, the council would appoint someone to represent the District VII seat she currently holds and a special election would be held later in the year to seat a permanent replacement.
St. Charles Parish Registrar of Voters Brian Champagne said the parish would not bear the full cost of a special election as it be would added to the ballot on an already scheduled upcoming general election date.
The election will take place on Saturday, May 3 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. To find your polling location, visit geauxvote.com.
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