Praises grassroots effort, ready to bring parish together
Larry Cochran is still getting used to the election results that say he won the St. Charles Parish president race, but that didn’t stop him from having a “great” meeting with outgoing President V.J. St. Pierre and setting up his transition team.
In Saturday’s general election, Cochran, D-St. Rose, took the lead and kept it for the win at 8,829 votes (56.58 percent) over opponent Terry Authement, R-Boutte, with 6,914 votes (43.92 percent).
Cochran said he didn’t believe he won the runoff “until the last precinct was read and the last vote cast.” But once it became real to him, he took a moment to be with his family, went to his party Saturday night, called Authement on Sunday and started prepping to become the parish’s new president.
“Over the next seven weeks, I will be working to set up my administration,” Cochran said. “I am committed to surrounding myself with the best and brightest people based on qualifications.”
As part of this movement, he looks forward to working with St. Pierre in the transition.
“We’re not changing our script,” Cochran said. “We’re going to assemble a transition team and interview and look at every department. The budget will be a big thing. Their vision for their department will be a big thing. Where do they see the parish in four years?”
Cochran has to wrap up his work as parish council chairman and District 5 council member, but he’s ready to step up as parish CEO on Jan. 1.
“Having served the council for the past eight years, I am familiar with the overall projects and needs of the parish,” Cochran said. “However, upon taking office, I will be meeting with each department to review in detail their operations and discuss the expectations of my administration. As with any new administration, there will be some changes.”
In the Oct. 24 primary election, Cochran faced three opponents and got 6,102 votes against Authement’s 3,966 votes, John Cornwell, D-Luling, 3,966 votes, and Carolyn Schexnaydre, R-Destrehan, 2,226 votes.
“After the first primary, we felt very good about receiving over 40 percent of the vote in a four-person race, but we knew each election is a totally new race and anything could happen,” Cochran said.
The winning strategy, he emphasized, was the “great diverse group of campaign volunteers from across the parish” who supported him. “We stayed focused on a positive campaign about the future of St. Charles Parish and our quality of life.”
Cochran will join a Parish Council with three incumbents returning to their seats: Julia Fisher-Perrier won a second term as District 7 councilwoman unchallenged; Terrell Wilson, D-Hahnville, won a second term as District 1 councilman after beating Milton Allemand Jr. of Hahnville, no party, and Traci-Ackerman-Fletcher also was re-elected to a second term as District 6 councilwoman.
Other incumbents are returning, but in different seats: Wendy Benedetto, R-Destrehan, was elected Division A at-large council member after winning against Erick St. Amant, R-Destrehan; Paul Hogan, R-Des Allemands, currently District 4 councilman, will now serve as Division B at-large councilman, replacing Jarvis Lewis, D-Luling; William “Billy” Woodruff, R-Des Allemands, formerly District 2 councilman who relocated to Des Allemands, will now fill the District 4 seat.
Council newcomers include Mary Keller Clulee, R-Luling in the District 2 seat; Dick Gibbs, R-Destrehan, was elected to the District 3 seat, and Marilyn Bellock, D-St. Rose, won the District 5 seat against Bobby Ducote, R-St. Rose.Despite fighting his own tough race, Cochran praised Authement for running a good race.
“I have known Terry for many years and I know that he was sincere in wanting what is best for our parish,” he said. “I called him on Sunday and thanked him for running and let him know I welcome his input and ideas for the future of the parish. Elections are the basis of democracy, but it’s important that when they are over, we all work together for what’s best for St. Charles Parish.”
Cochran was equally enthused about stepping into his new role as parish president.
“It was a good feeling that the people chose to move the parish in a new direction,” said Cochran. “It truly was a grassroots effort. It was a long road and I’m pleased we won and are ready to bring the parish together and start moving it forward.”