Race for Jefferson Parish’s at-large council seats takes shape

Race for Jefferson Parish’s at-large council seats takes shape

Metairie, La. (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish voters will decide in the fall who will fill the parish’s two at-large council seats and Friday another candidate with local name recognition entered the race.

Current District 2 Councilman Paul Johnston had previously announced that he wants voters to promote him to a parish-wide seat on the council. He is running for the Division "B" seat.

Johnston said his years of experience make him suited to become councilman-at-large.

"I want to continue the work that we have done the last eight years in Jefferson Parish. We had tremendous economic development in the district and in Jefferson Parish itself and I feel I offer my experience, I know government, I know how things work in Jefferson Parish,” Johnston said.

On Friday, Johnston attracted a challenger for the Division "B" seat. Former TV newsman Scott Walker announced he is running as he stood outside his Old Metairie business.

"Jefferson Parish government has to be responsive to its people, this position, the council at large position has to be accountable to its constituents. I will be accessible to the people who vote for me. I will be reachable,” said Walker.

In the race for the Division "A" council-at-large seat, District 1 Councilman Ricky Templet is a candidate. So far, no one has been vocal about challenging Templet for the seat.

Templet says his background makes him a good fit to represent the whole parish.

"A parish councilman representing about 82,000 people from downtown Gretna by the Mississippi River all the way to Grand Isle, the Gulf of Mexico and everything in between. One of the most unique districts in the state of Louisiana let alone Jefferson Parish, so I think I have the capability of the proper leadership skills, the proper experience,” said Templet.

Johnston says his accomplishments as district councilman are myriad.

“In my district alone, we've had a $1.5 billion investment,” said Johnston.

And he said he wants to tackle problems across Jefferson Parish.

"In my district we have issues with the chemical plant, we’ve got to work on relationships with the chemical plants and the district because if you noted in the last year and a half we had a lot of issues with smell and we had a lot of issues with our landfill,” said Johnston.

Walker pointed to areas where he believes more progress is needed.

"We need to attract new businesses, working-class people need to have good job opportunities, they need to be able to survive and thrive in this parish that they call home,” he said.

Templet said he has always worked to help law enforcement.

"I’ve always been very pro law enforcement from a city councilman to the state legislature to the parish,” Templet stated.

Additionally, Templet says he has been successful in fighting for more flood protection in lower Jefferson Parish.

"Just two months ago had the capability to receive $6 million from the state of Louisiana to build rock jetties to help protect the backside of Grand Isle, which helps protect one of our barrier islands,” Templet said.

And Walker has a response for those who would say he lacks the political experience needed for a council-at-large seat.

"Everybody at some point didn’t have a lot of experience when they got into these positions. I think I offer a conversation about the future,” Walker said.

Walker concedes he is behind in fundraising but is confident he will raise the money needed to wage his campaign.

Johnston and Templet also said they will have the funds required for their campaigns.

The election is in October.

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.