When the telephone rang, Erick St. Amant wasn’t surprised when the robotic voice on the other end sought his opinion on St. Charles Parish’s election for parish president.
The election primary is Oct. 12.
Incumbent Larry Cochran has announced and affirmed he’s seeking re-election despite a generally angry public response to his withdrawal from Jefferson Parish’s pre-trial or first offender diversion program. The move resulted in Cochran being charged with DWI and reckless operation of a motor vehicle connected to his 2017 arrest in Kenner for apparently driving while intoxicated.
To date, Cochran has no opposition in the election. He also did not respond to a request to comment for this story.
In the recent call, or what he described as an automated poll, St. Amant said he was asked about Cochran. He said he heard many others have also received the call.
“I was asked if we were satisfied with Cochran’s problems such as quitting the diversion program and ‘Would you vote for him knowing he was arrested?’”
St. Amant declined to comment on his poll responses.
But he did say he was asked about four potential candidates for parish president, including Parish Public Works Director Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux, parish Chief Administrative Officer Billy Raymond and council members Julia Fisher-Perrier and Paul Hogan.
Raymond previously served on the Parish Council, and helped run parish government last year while Cochran recovered from a motorcycle accident.
Raymond said he’s aware of the poll, has not received or participated in it, and is not running for parish president.
“My plan is to continue my focus on the tasks and goals we have before us as parish administrators,” he said. “President Cochran and our current administration have done an exceptional job since coming into office.”
Safe daily operations, continuous progress on established goals and fiscal responsibility are among what he named as hallmarks of the administration.
Faucheux, who ran unsuccessfully for parish president in 2007, said Cochran “had the confidence to hire me as the Public Works director. I have the confidence in Larry Cochran to continue to lead St. Charles Parish into the next term.”
Fisher-Perrier responded in a statement, “I am working hard to serve the constituents of District 7 and that is my current focus. I am passionate about my work on behalf of the people of St. Charles Parish and I’ll always step up and serve wherever I feel I can best deliver results for the families and businesses of St. Charles Parish.”
Fisher-Perrier also chairs the council.
Al Suffrin, member of the parish’s School Board, confirmed he got a call seeking his thoughts on the parish’s future.
“As polls go, it was kind of what I expected,” said Suffrin, who is considering a run for parish president but was not named in the poll. “The initial questions were ‘soft’ questions asking the issues of most concern and then it got into questions about specific individuals – favorable or unfavorable about each person.”
It polled on parish concerns such as drainage and levees, he said.
“It specifically mentioned the recent news of Larry dropping out of the diversion program.” – Al Suffrin
“It specifically mentioned the recent news of Larry dropping out of the diversion program,” Suffrin said.
Political polls are not unusual with the parish president election approaching in October, he said.
Suffrin said, typically, they poll a sample of about 300 people. Pollers get the names of those who voted in the last five elections.
Hogan, parish Division B at-large councilman, said he was surprised to receive the call, but not surprised to hear his name on the list despite the fact he’s already announced he’s not running for parish president.
“I put an ad out there indicating I wasn’t going to seek the office of parish president, but one can never say never,” he said. “You never know … something can happen.”
Hogan, as did St. Amant, said he was questioned about the favorability or lack of favorability for each person named, as well as parish issues such as hurricane protection, drainage and corruption.
“Apparently, whoever did this poll may have been hearing the same thing and decided to put my name on the poll to see how I ranked in the public’s opinion,” Hogan said. “I think it shows that someone is worried about me stepping into the race. It could be anybody.”
Hogan also declined to comment on his poll responses, but added, “It would be interesting to see the results.”
The St. Charles Herald-Guide was unable to verify who commissioned the poll.