DSA New OrleansFall 2022

Voter Guide

Jefferson Parish School Board, District 1

Public education is critical to the working class, and Jefferson Parish Schools are no different. The essential question facing voters this year is: who do you want to be running your schools? The Chamber of Commerce that wants to gut the system and give money to developers? Anti-CRT weirdos who are entering races nationwide to prop up white supremacist ideas? Or do you want people who know what students and teachers need and who will defend collective bargaining for Jefferson Teachers from threats by the most elite and reactionary interests in our region?

This election will see four unopposed Chamber of Commerce-backed candidates cruise to power, with the likely addition of a few more. In the past two years, the board has overseen the closure of many elementary schools, and many see their consolidation under new K-8 schools as part of a program to phase out elementary schools altogether and turn the system in a charter direction, very much against the public will.

Jefferson Federation of Teachers (JFT) have a collective bargaining agreement that is negotiated with the School Board. The composition of the school board and the policies that they choose to implement are consequential to future contract negotiations between them and the union.

Gerard LeBlanc (R) is the incumbent for the Gretna-based district, after having been appointed to the vacant seat in 2020. This is LeBlanc’s second time running, having lost to Mark Morgan in 2018. He has the endorsements of Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce, UTNO and the Jefferson Federation of Teachers. LeBlanc is a former Jefferson Parish Teacher and administrator. He is currently the Vice President of the School Board under Chamber-friendly President Clay Moise. He enjoys the financial backing of several developers, as well as architecture and engineering firms, likely positioning themselves to win bids for future work as business interests continue to push for consolidation of schools.

Miguel Romar (D) is running with a focus on, you guessed it, education! “Education is key!” her flyers and website say. Romar is currently a teacher of College Success at Delgado Community College, a position she has served for 27 years. Romar is backed by the Jefferson Parish Democrats. A native of Gretna, LA, Romar is a “born teacher” and has taught at St. Augustine High School and Jefferson Parish Schools, served as a high school counselor at Jefferson Parish Schools, and is a member of JFT and United Federation of College Teachers Local 1130. Miguel previously ran for Gretna City Council in 2021.

Jefferson Parish School Board, District 2

Rev. Ricky Johnson (D) is the incumbent in this Westbank district and has been a longtime friend of Jefferson Teachers. He has the endorsement of UTNO, AFL-CIO, and JFT, among others. The Chamber of Commerce has not endorsed anyone in District 2, including Johnson.

John Neal (D) is a former cop who ran for State House District 87 in 2019 (and lost spectacularly). He retired from the State Police after being arrested on counts of simple battery. His previous run for office centered heavily on reducing crime. Maybe he should focus on his own.

Maia Yordanov (R) has the endorsement of the Jefferson Parish Republican Executive Committee. Her platform is unclear, as is the reason why she posted a screengrab on her website that shows her testifying before the Louisiana State Legislature on a bill that sought to create greater oversight over Dominion Voting System as part of a Trump-fueled conservative backlash against his 2020 election loss. Yordanov is backed by School Board President Clay Moise.

Darold Ingram (I) is also a candidate.

Jefferson Parish School Board, District 5

Derrick Shepherd (D) has been active in state politics since the early 2000s, when he was elected to the State House with 60% of the vote in District 87. He authored a bill criminalizing “saggy pants” in 2004, ascended to the State Senate in 2005, and remained there through 2008, when he was charged with corruption. He was sentenced to 37 months for money laundering in 2010, but has since returned to politics — first as a speechwriter for Mayor Cantrell in 2018, and then with an unsuccessful run for Jefferson Parish Council in 2019. Shepherd has financial support that reaches across the state, including a major contribution from Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Katie Bernhardt. This is unsurprising to those who know Shepherd as the Parliamentarian at the center of this year’s DSCC meeting in which Gary Chambers was denied the statewide endorsement for Senate.

Simeon Dickerson (D) is the now-disqualified incumbent. He is unfortunately also the only endorsed candidate of UTNO, JFT, and the AFL-CIO, leaving no union-backed candidates in this district.

Jessica Bertrand McClendon (D) is an unknown candidate with no available campaign materials or contributions to report at the time of this writing.

Jefferson Parish School Board, District 6

Larry Dale formerly held this seat, until he resigned to be the executive director of the Jefferson Parish Business Council. His hand-picked successor, Rafael Rafidi, is a MAGA Republican who allegedly stormed the capitol in January and resigned after five days, but only after Tweets surfaced that criticized teachers.

Diane Schnell (R) is the incumbent, appointed by the school board earlier this year after Rafidi’s departure. She is notable for her work with Telemundo and work with Spanish-speakers in the region.

Lauren Jewett (D) is the Union-Endorsed™ candidate in this race, whose long work with UTNO has made her a clear favorite of the rank-and-file teacher. According to her website, she is committed to improving mental health support for students and educators; protecting democracy through community input; addressing staff shortages; ensuring safe and sustainable school buildings and facilities; and strengthening the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She is running an old-school grassroots campaign, funded by over 100 individuals, averaging $53 apiece. She is a Run For Something candidate who’s been endorsed by UTNO, and has split dual endorsements from AFL-CIO and JFT with Eric Moore.

Eric Moore (R) is a big oil and gas guy who is enjoying a massive $10,000 campaign advantage over Jewett, funded by the usual power players – lawyers, engineering, and construction firms – all looking to squeeze profits out of the schools. He is the official Republican-backed candidate.

Michael Pedalino (R) advocates for parents’ rights, which is the current dog whistle for anti-vax, back-the-blue, anti-CRT policies.

Jefferson Parish School Board, District 7

After the incumbent Billy North stepped aside, Ralph ‘Rem’ Brandt (R) is the Chamber of Commerce-backed candidate in the Harahan, River Ridge, and Elmwood district. His primary interest in schools is to improve performance to drive up property values. He has a background in punishing and criminalizing children as the chief of the juvenile division for the New Orleans DA’s office.

James ‘Jimmy’ Kytle (D) served as a longtime coach and principal of East Jefferson High School.

JFT, UTNO, and the AFL-CIO have endorsed both candidates.

City of Harahan Mayor

Incumbent Tim Baudier (R) is seeking reelection for mayor. He is endorsed by Jefferson Parish Republicans, the AFL-CIO, Greater New Orleans Republicans (GNOR), and the Alliance for Good Government. He has raised over $37,000, with donations coming from local business owners and politicos, along with a large sum from Sheriff Joe Lopinto. Most of his campaign funds have been donated to other electoral efforts, with some funds being redirected towards the election campaigns of incumbent councilmembers Tom Budde and Jason Asbill.

Pete Schneckenburger (R) is also running. He has raised less money from local business people than his opponent and is mostly funding his campaign through a $10,000 loan. It is unclear what he’s running to do differently, but it’s important enough that he got on Facebook for the first time to do it.

City of Harahan Chief of Police

The Police Chief’s principal authority is empowered to appoint and dismiss personnel, in accordance with state law.

Edward “Ed” Lepre has his hands in a lot of pies around the region. He’s a property owner, investor, and owns multiple businesses related to personal security, including the National Investigating and Consulting Agency, LLC; the International Executive Protection Agency, LLC; and US Bomb Dog Detection, LLC. He has donated to Tim Baudier’s mayoral campaign.

Bryan St. Cyr is a former Jefferson Parish councilmember’s aide who made headlines for shoving a member of the zoning board. He is the current Assistant Police Chief, and has not yet filed his campaign finance paperwork.

Both men are Republicans endorsed by UTNO.

City of Harahan Council

Harahan’s City Council convenes every Third Thursday of the month at 7pm at Harahan’s City Hall (6437 Jefferson Highway). Meeting agendas and minutes can be found online here. Harahan has five City Council members, and candidates compete for those seats all at once. To win without a runoff, candidates must collect more than half of the quotient of all votes cast divided by five. For all others, the runoff election is in December. It’s a circus. Most candidates are likely to return for the second round.

Jason Asbill (R) is an incumbent running to “Keep Harahan, Harahan” — which we assume to mean 93.1% white. Asbill repeated the dog whistle slogan in congratulating officers on the apprehension and excessive sentencing (55 years) of a Black teenager for carjacking. Even Nola.com’s top conservative columnist – James Gill – weighed in on that sentence as “savage” and “perverse.” Fascist would be another good word.

“Tommy” Budde (R) is another incumbent, retired construction worker and veteran. His campaign is funded principally by Tim Baudier.

Eric Chatalain (R) is the final incumbent for this round. He was a candidate for mayor in 2019, notably outspending his opponent 9 to 1 and losing.

Carol Barker Logreco (R) is running a self-funded campaign. She is a commercial sales and listing agent for real estate brokerage firm Latter and Blum.

Michelle Canamar (R) is an insurance sales agent endorsed by the Jefferson Parish GOP.

Maurizio Francescon (R) is endorsed by the Alliance for Good Government and GNOR PAC. He has not yet filed campaign finance reports.

Paul Johnston (R) is endorsed by UTNO. He is running a well-funded campaign. He had an ethics investigation filed against him in 2017 when he was previously a councilmember. The investigation showed four counts of ethics violations, all of which involved dubiously accrued “Lagniappe Dollars” for the Copeland’s Rewards program.

Michael Ricks Jr. (I) has received the financial blessing of Tim Baudier as well.

Jacques Soudelier (R) claims to have opened the Buffalo Wild Wings on Clearview. He is strikingly bald and has uploaded the spookiest campaign finance report of all the candidates (blurry fax).