JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A new poll by the University of New Orleans shows former Jefferson Parish spokesman John Fortunato has a "large lead" over interim Sheriff Joseph Lopinto in the race for Jefferson Parish Sheriff.
The poll surveyed 426 random registered voters in Jefferson Parish about the sheriff's race and the job performance of Parish President Mike Yenni.
According to the poll, 44% of those surveyed said they would vote for Fortunato if the election were today. Nineteen percent said they would vote for Lopinto, and 37% were undecided.
The race for the office vacated by Newell Normand's unexpected retirement this summer currently pits Fortunato, a 46-year veteran of the JPSO, against Lopinto, Normand's appointed replacement.
We reached out to the two announced candidates about the poll results.
"One of the reasons why I think I am the best candidate for the job is first of all I don't think that we have to accept a politician's hand-picked sheriff. I truly believe the people of Jefferson Parish need to decide who they would like to see lead them on and based on the information you have in this poll it certainly appears to be that the voters are speaking," said Fortunato.
Lopinto said he wasn't available for an on-camera interview, but in a statement he said:
"I'm focused on doing my job as sheriff, keeping the people of Jefferson Parish safe. As far as the campaign, I have raised over $600,000 to date because of the broad base of strong support for my candidacy in this community. I look forward to continuing to show that I have the right combination of qualifications and demeanor to keep the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office operating at the high standard of excellence our citizens expect and deserve."
The UNO poll also asked voters if they approved or disapproved of Parish President Mike Yenni's job performance. Only 29% said they approved. Nearly 46% disapproved, and 25% didn't know.
When we requested a comment from Yenni, a Jefferson Parish spokesman told us he is out of town for the rest of the week.
The primary for Jefferson Parish Sheriff is scheduled for March 24.