Destrehan’s Dennis Roussel announced his candidacy for the office of Sheriff of St. Charles Parish in a prepared statement while declining an interview request, playing his campaign - at least so far - remarkably close to the vest.
Roussel, did not say when, where or why he decided to run against two-term incumbent Sheriff Greg Champagne for the important office, but flatly stated in the headline to his release, “It’s time for a change.”
Roussel’s intentions came as a surprise to the sheriff, who told the Herald-Guide he will announce his own candidacy for re-election at a later date.
“My name is Dennis ‘Black’ Roussel, and I am announcing my candidacy for Sheriff of St. Charles Parish,” the Valero St. Charles Refinery operations shift superintendent said in the statement that he hand delivered to the Herald-Guide’s office in Boutte.
“If elected, I will introduce many new programs. I would like to work closely with our schools to reach out to our children at a young age and teach them more about law enforcement systems to help guide them in the right direction.
“I will also form a ‘citizen action committee’ that will meet regularly to ensure the sheriff’s office is moving in the right direction to meet the needs in the different areas of the parish.
“I will solicit the many industries in our parish to help finance programs for our children and also to work with our senior citizens, who we cannot forget - for it is because of them that our great parish has flourished.”
Black touted his military background, family ties and job at Valero as evidence that he has the character, experience, dedication and work ethic to serve as sheriff in a post-Katrina, post-911 world.
“I was born and raised in St. Charles Parish and my wife, Diane, and I now reside in Destrehan,” he said. “I graduated from Destrehan High School and served in the U.S. Army for six years, during which time I served two tours in Vietnam.
“I'm now employed at Valero St. Charles Refinery as an operations shift superintendent, where I wear many hats. Besides overseeing product quality and the production of the refinery, I ensure that safety and environmental responsibility are the highest priorities of our operations.
“Another hat I wear is the role of ‘incident commander.’ In this role, I work closely with all government agencies and the public during all incidents."
“I would use my incident-command training to work closely with the Department of Emergency Preparedness and the parish president's office to ensure everything that can be done, will be done in any type of incident or disaster that may occur in our parish.”
In what might be interpreted by some as “convenient,” Roussel, in his prepared statement, voiced support of term limits for sheriff, saying two is enough. Champagne, of course, has served two terms. And if he runs again, as he has said he will, he will be trying for a third.
“I am a strong believer that all elected offices should be term limited,” Roussel said in his release. “This way, we could bring in new ideas and new personalities.
“I believe a two-term limit should be set. This would prevent dynasties from being formed and would help the agency grow in many directions.”
He also made clear his intention to serve all citizens, not just those on the east bank - or the west bank - of the Mississippi River.
“I will make myself available on both sides of the river,” he said in his statement.
“I am looking forward to the campaign so I can meet (all citizens) and convey my sincerity and passion for serving the people in St. Charles Parish.”