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Inside Jeff Parish

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Coulon's Options
What do you do next if you are Jefferson Parish President Tim Coulon? After a successful two terms in the top administrative position in the parish, Coulon has many options.

One prominent supporter is trying to convince the Jefferson Parish president to run for lieutenant governor because the current incumbent, Kathleen Blanco, has already announced her intentions to vacate the office and run for governor. Such a race might be difficult because there will most probably be three strong candidates: State Sen. Willie Mount of Lake Charles, State Rep. Tony Perkins of Baton Rouge and State Rep. Melinda Schwegmann of New Orleans.

Another alternative for Coulon is to compete for the open public service commissioner slot being vacated by U.S. Senate candidate Jay Blossman. Yet another interesting scenario has Coulon waiting for Vitter to run for governor and then taking a shot at the congressional seat if Vitter wins.

One Jefferson Parish political observer says that Coulon will pass on all of these other races and take on incumbent State Sen. Chris Ullo of Marrero.

Whichever way he decides to go, Coulon will be a formidable candidate. His successful performance as parish president has generated a tremendous amount of political capital. "No one knows more about metro New Orleans problems and solutions than Tim Coulon," says former Jefferson Parish District Attorney Jack Capella.

Currently, Coulon is not allowing speculation about his future to detract from his present duties. In a recent radio interview, Coulon deflected all my questions about his political future, claiming that he was too focused on the many responsibilities of the office of parish president to be concerned about future races. Although Coulon may not be looking ahead, his many supporters are certainly not following his lead, at least in this matter.

Harahan Heating Up
With Harahan Police Chief John Doyle stepping down this fall due to term limits, candidates are lining up in the race to succeed him.

One of the first candidates out of the gate is Harahan City Council member Peter Dale. Dale has served on the council for four years and has worked as a private investigator for 12 years. Dale cites his qualifications for the position of police chief by stressing not only his background as a council member and an investigator, but also his educational background at Loyola University, where he received a degree in criminology.

Dale will have company in the race for police chief. Other candidates looking at the race include fellow Harahan Council member Tim Walker and former candidate Jim Cavalier.

Sassone Eyes Reelection
Although her name was mentioned last week in "Inside Jeff Parish" as a possible candidate for Jefferson Parish district attorney, Judge Martha Sassone rejects such speculation.

Sassone stresses her commitment to run for reelection to her position as judge for the 24th Judicial Court, Division K. She was elected to the judgeship in 1990 and re-elected in 1996. Her six-year term is up this fall.

"I have been friends with Paul Connick since law school," Sassone says of the current district attorney. "We are definitely not at odds." Although, as a judge, Sassone is barred from supporting candidates for other offices, she notes that Connick has backed her in previous races.

Besides her two successful races for the 24th Judicial Court, Sassone lost a 1998 campaign for the Court of Appeals to Judge Susan Chehardy, sister of Jefferson Parish Assessor Lawrence Chehardy.

Capitano Lines Up Endorsements
Kenner City Councilman Phil Capitano, facing three other opponents in the April 6 election, has announced some key endorsements. Supporting Capitano in his reelection bid will be key officeholders of both parties.

Leading Jefferson Parish Republicans who have announced their support for Capitano include Parish President Tim Coulon, Jefferson Parish Councilmember Ed Muniz, State Sen. Art Lentini and State Rep. Danny Martiny. Key Jefferson Parish Democrats endorsing Capitano include Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, Council Chairman Aaron Broussard and State Rep. Glenn Ansardi.

Along with the support of this bipartisan group of elected officials, Capitano has also garnered the endorsements of the Jefferson Chamber, the Jefferson Parish Chapter of the Alliance for Good Government and the Jefferson Parish Republican Party.

In the recent endorsement battles, Capitano has faced the staunch opposition of Kenner Police Chief Nick Congemi, who, according to one Kenner insider, made personal calls to Jefferson Chamber members to lobby on behalf of the candidate he is supporting, Jules Corona. Facing Capitano, Corona has not come away completely empty-handed, winning the support of the Jefferson Alliance, another good government organization.

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