Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle will not run for re-election. Cantrelle announced his decision Friday in an open letter to the parish.
“I am announcing today that I will not be seeking re-election as Lafourche Parish President. I have reached this decision after much deliberation and consultation with my family,” Cantrelle said. “I cannot submit my family to another 4 years of such volatile conditions, including frivolous charges and accusations brought against me.”
Cantrelle’s departure from the race leaves three remaining candidates: Archie Chaisson, Joe Fertitta and Luci Sposito.
After the news broke, Chaisson and Fertitta wished Cantrelle well. Sposito declined to comment.
“I wish him the best in spending time with family and grandchildren,” Chaisson said. “Although I didn’t agree with him on some political issues, I have some respect for the man for putting his name out there and deciding to run. We will continue to focus on our campaign to move Lafourche forward.”
Chaisson served as parish administrator under the last parish president, Charlotte Randolph.
Cantrelle defeated Randolph in a runoff in 2015.
“I wish him well,” Fertitta said. “Any candidate would make a difference, having four in the race compared to three, but I’m not going to change my strategy or anything. We’re still going to work hard and go to the voters and hope that people that would have voted for him consider my qualifications.”
Cantrelle unsuccessfully ran for parish president in 2011, 2003 and 1999. Fertitta has also run unsuccessful campaigns for the post.
“Serving the people of Lafourche Parish had long been a goal of mine because I wanted to give back to a people and place that had given me so much opportunity,” Cantrelle said.
Official signups began Tuesday at the Lafourche Clerk of Court’s Office.
Cantrelle could not be reached Friday for further comment.
“In spite of all the controversy, I am proud of the things that my administration has accomplished,” Cantrelle said.
The parish president has been heavily criticized by some members of the Parish Council with some accusations leading to lengthy legal battles.
He is currently involved in a court battle with the council over his salary. Cantrelle was sued by the Lafourche district attorney for his appointment of a parish administrator last year.
The state Ethics Board closed a case against him last year after it was alleged that he attempted to coerce council members to give parish employees a raise. A civil lawsuit filed against Cantrelle alleged he violated state open meetings law and retaliated against his former parish administrator for blowing the whistle on Cantrelle’s actions. The case was ultimately dismissed.
The civil suit stemmed from negotiations over a new health care contract, which Cantrelle said saved the parish over $1.5 million in two years.
Similarly, an open meetings complaint filed by Cantrelle against the Parish Council was dismissed last year.
“Although I have been exonerated of all of these frivolous charges levied against me in the appropriate court of law or administrative agency of the state, it has taken its toll,” Cantrelle said.
Despite the turmoil, Cantrelle said he was proud of some of the work the parish accomplished during his time in office.
He cited several projects, including the Leeville Fishing Pier, Delta Farms Boat Launch in Larose, the pending addition to Heroes Park, floating pier for Leighton Boat Launch, Lockport Community Center and the Bayou Blue Splash Park, the reformation of the parish permitting office and the millions of dollars directed to the area from the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board.
“I am very proud of the changes we made. I am still concerned about our parish’s future,” Cantrelle said. “As a citizen, I fully expect to remain active and engaged in making our communities better places in which to live.”
Cantrelle’s term expires on Jan. 1.
The election to replace him will be held Oct. 12. If no one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held Nov. 16.
-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.
The following is Cantrelle’s letter in full:
Four years ago, I announced my candidacy to serve as President of Lafourche Parish. Serving the people of Lafourche Parish had long been a goal of mine because I wanted to give back to a people and place that had given me so much opportunity.
However, I am announcing today that I will not be seeking re-election as Lafourche Parish President. I have reached this decision after much deliberation and consultation with my family. I cannot submit my family to another 4 years of such volatile conditions, including frivolous charges and accusations brought against me. Although I have been exonerated of all of these frivolous charges levied against me in the appropriate court of law or administrative agency of the state, it has taken its toll.
In spite of all the controversy, I am proud of the things that my administration has accomplished. With a crippled economy and a tremendous loss of revenue, Lafourche Parish Government has drastically increased the work performed on pump repair, replacement, drainage, ditch restoration and cleaning, and numerous other infrastructure projects.
James Barnes and myself worked tirelessly to solve flooding problems throughout the parish, especially in Sugar Ridge. Some of our projects include the Leeville Fishing Pier, Delta Farms Boat Launch in Larose, purchase of property for an addition to Heroes Park, floating pier for Leighton Boat Launch, Lockport Community Center, Bayou Blue Splash Park, and resurfacing and improving many roads, to name a few.
As a member of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board, I was able, along with President Dove of Terrebonne Parish, to secure hundreds of millions of new dollars for our area to help restore our coast and protect our people from flooding and build hurricane protection.
As promised during my campaign, our permit office and permitting process have been reformed. We now have two new office locations where people are being served properly, all done at no extra expense to the taxpayers.
In regards to our health care insurance for parish workers, I experienced extreme criticism for trying to seek proposals from other insurance agencies to insure that we were getting the best deal for our employees and the best price for our taxpayers. This huge contract had probably never been re-negotiated in over 12 years. Finally, after three years, the medical and health care insurance was renegotiated, saving our parish over 1.5 million dollars in two years, with a policy that is virtually the same as the old one.
I also negotiated a new garbage contract, at a savings to residents of almost 2 million dollars per year, with even better service than the old contract. I am very proud of the changes we made. I am still concerned about our parish’s future.
I thank the people of Lafourche Parish for giving me this opportunity to serve, and I especially thank my loyal supporters, family and friends. I would also like to say thanks to ALL our Lafourche Parish employees, especially my Department Heads.
As a citizen, I fully expect to remain active and engaged in making our communities better places in which to live.
Posted on Tue, August 6, 2019
by By Julia Arenstam Daily Comet Staff Writer