On Saturday, voters will decide the last unfilled position on the St. Charles Parish Council with Terrell “T-Bone” Wilson and Holly Fonseca in the runoff.
Fonseca, the parish’s former grants officer, led the primary with 41 percent of the vote for the At-Large Division B seat while Wilson got 34 percent, knocking incumbent Paul Hogan out of the race. Wilson, 60, is a Dow Chemical retiree and works as a bus driver with St. Charles Parish Public Schools.
Both candidates say they bring considerable experience to the office.
“My 10-plus years of parish government experience as a civil servant, grants officer and executive staffer throughout which I gained knowledge of the inner workings of parish government, as well as experience working across local, state and federal levels of government is my biggest advantage that will allow me to hit the ground running on Day One,” said Fonseca.
Fonseca said she has been endorsed by the St. Charles Republican Parish Executive Committee, New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors, as well as former Parish President V.J. St. Pierre Jr.
Wilson said he brings eight years experience as District 1 councilman to the position, which he emphasized includes his ability to work as a team with state officials, the administration and parish president to get things done.
He further emphasized his experience will be even more critical with Parish President-elect Matt Jewell entering office and a third of the council being new.
“Though we reside in the community we represent, we have to represent people from all walks of life from throughout the entire parish, which is especially important for an at-large council seat,” he said. “I represent the diversity that exists with this parish.”
Wilson’s endorsements include the AFL-CIO and Homebuilders Association of Greater New Orleans.
Fonseca, 49, said her platform is built around flood protection, fiscal responsibility and getting results.
“I believe my reputation of being an experienced, results-driven leader with integrity precedes me,” she said. “I am ready to serve the people of St. Charles Parish.”
She wants to continue working on 100-year hurricane protection on both sides of the river, maintain and improve existing levees, use all available funding efficiently, and work with Congress and federal agencies to ensure flood insurance remains affordable. Fonseca said she will strive for budget responsibility to fund infrastructure and quality-of-life improvements, and monitor spending to avoid tax increases. Additionally, she will work with fellow council members to provide oversight with a focus on efficient, cost-effective capital projects.
Wilson said he will continue pushing for maintaining flood structures, as well as helping residents work through zoning laws and standing firm on being fair with constituents.
Quality of life enhancements such as a new pavilion in South Fashion, new playground equipment for the Killona playground and several park enhancements in Boutte and the East Bank portion of District 1 are among the achievements he accomplished during his tenure.
As a result of his efforts, Wilson said $760,000 is being invested in upgrading the wastewater facility in Hahnville to accommodate future growth.
Overall, Fonseca said she’s run a professional, positive campaign and intends to continue doing so.
But Wilson maintained the election has gotten “personal” over the controversial Gator Cove boat launch deal.
Wilson contends Neal Clulee and his family have substantially bankrolled Fonseca’s campaign in retaliation for Wilson opposing a $4,500-a-month boat launch deal with the parish that would have benefited Clulee and his family. Clulee’s wife, Mary, is a member of the St. Charles Parish Council.
“This is payback for the boat launch,” Wilson said. “I was told by Neal Clulee that he’d never forgive me and Paul [Hogan] for what we dragged his wife [Mary Clulee] through.”
Wilson’s campaign raised $10,600 in contributions with Fonseca generating $26,950, according to state campaign finance reports. The Clulees personally donated $4,500 to Fonseca’s campaign, according to those reports.
Both Wilson and Hogan opposed the launch deal in 2017.
Fonseca responded, “I have no comment regarding my opponent’s comment and wish him all the best.”
Mary Clulee denied the claim.
“That is the furthest thing from the truth,” Mary said. “Our support for Holly has nothing to do with the boat launch. We were doing that on request of the administration. We did everything we could to make it available to the public and it didn’t work out. It had nothing to do with T-Bone.”