Jefferson Parish sheriff's election just days away

Jefferson Parish sheriff's election just days away
Updated: Mar. 21, 2018 at 5:26 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - "I'm glad that I've had the opportunity for the past six months to show people who I am," Jefferson Parish Interim Sheriff Joe Lopinto said.

"I've been staying on my platform. It's all about protecting the people of Jefferson Parish," said retired JPSO Col. John Fortunato, Lopinto's opponent in the upcoming race.

In just days, Jefferson Parish residents will choose who they want to complete the term of former Sheriff Newell Normand. Lopinto, who Sheriff Newell Normand appointed as he was about to retire, worked as a JPSO deputy, earned a law degree and served in the state Legislature. Fortunato spent four decades in the department, working as a detective and department spokesman.

"I've been a police officer all my life. I'm not a politician, and I just think I have all the right qualifications," Fortunato said.

"I have to go out there and not only campaign and meet people, but also do my job, come here to the office and do the things that we have to do as a department and what I have to do as a sheriff," Lopinto said.

FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman said this race was never about a gap in policies between the two candidates.

"This is all about integrity and character and who voters think will keep them safe in Jefferson Parish," Sherman said.

It's been a heated campaign that became even more heated in the last couple of weeks.

"Politics do get dirty sometimes, but the reality is, did I expect it? No," Lopinto said.

"You know, I've sat and watched being with Harry Lee for all those years, and I watched how the game is played, but I'll tell you, since I've been on the playing field, I've seen a side of people that I never knew existed," Fortunato said.

"So, there are two issues here for voters. One is what is their vision for a sheriff, and which candidate meets that vision? Is it a career lawman, or is it that attorney who wants to manage that organization? There is a very different profile for these two candidates," Sherman said.

Both candidates said they feel good heading into Saturday's elections, and both hope voter turnout will be higher than expected.

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