Bio: Dr. Peter R. Galvan

Published: Mar. 22, 2013 at 12:02 AM CDT
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An image from a campaign video produced for Dr. Peter Galvan's 2011 re-election campaign
An image from a campaign video produced for Dr. Peter Galvan's 2011 re-election campaign

Dr. Peter Randall Galvan, fourth-term coroner of St. Tammany Parish, was born in Picayune, Miss. but describes himself in online biographies as a lifelong resident of Slidell.

Galvan attended Pearl River High School, and he says on his campaign web site that he entered Southeastern Louisiana University just after completing the 11th grade. He continued his studies at the University of New Orleans and Louisiana State University's School of Medicine, where he received his Doctorate of Medicine in 1989.

Galvan served in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged with commendation before he started his medical practice.  He first ran for St. Tammany's Coroner's Office in 1999, and over the years since that election win he's cataloged a long list of professional achievements in office.

"Dr. Galvan implemented a standard of excellence in death investigation when he first took office and continues to see that these policies are implemented," reads his campaign bio.  "Today, he manages an office of 21 employees and a budget of $4 million. His death investigators are certified by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators. St. Tammany now has its own pathologist to keep cases in the parish."

Galvan boasts of a DNA lab that is "the first internationally accredited public lab in the state, ranking in the top 20 percent nationwide."  He broke ground for the 23,000-sq. foot facility in 2010, almost six years after voters approved a millage increase to directly fund the Coroner's Office.  The new lab gathered under one roof facilities that had been scattered across the parish.

"He has lobbied in favor of legislation geared toward preventing suicides and fatal prescription drug overdoses, two issues that he says have plagued the northshore," reads a report by the Times-Picayune about Galvan's 2011 re-election bid against Dr. Beatrice "Bea" Desper, a gynecologist based in Mandeville.

Desper referred to Galvan as a career politician.  "When people get into politics long-term, they lose touch with reality," Desper told the T-P.  "They get this idea that they're special in some way."

"Dr. Peter Galvan wrote a prescription for change," reads the announcer in a campaign video distributed in October 2011. Galvan himself fended off accusations by Desper in the 2011 contest that he was working with a bloated budget, and he pledged to remain open to public inquiries about the workings of his office.

"He says he satisfies all state requirements by releasing his office's budgetary information to both the legislative auditor and the parish government's official journal," reads the Times-Picayune report. "He added in a televised League of Women Voters debate with Desper, 'It can be available and placed anywhere the public wishes. All you have to do is make a phone call to my office.'"

Galvan won re-election on October 22, getting nearly three-quarters of the vote.

Galvan has continued his private medical practice during his tenure as coroner, with an office on Brownswitch Road in Slidell.  The League of Women Voters lists Galvan's civic involvement with the St. Tammany Parish Community Action Agency, Family Services of Greater New Orleans, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education, and Northshore Harbor Center Friends of the Harbor.

Galvan is married to Alison Manders Galvan, also an MD.  They've raised two children, Allie Elizabeth Galvan and Grant Randall Galvan, who died in 2008 at age 17.  The boy's death led his parents to speak publicly and passionately about the risks of teen suicide, as documented in a video of the Galvans speaking at Journey Fellowship Church in 2011.