Election yields low turnout
By Derek Albert
Few voters showed up at polling places in St. Martin Parish for the special elections held Saturday.
According to the St. Martin Clerk of Court’s Web site, only a little more than 2,500 of the parish’s 34,729 eligible voters cast ballots for the three items on the April 4 ballot.
Despite the low voter turnout, School Board Superintendent Richard Lavergne said he is pleased with the outcome.
Lavergne, school board members and employees were backing a $30 million bond issue and a renewal of a 8.32 mills proposition. Both items received overwhelming support from parish voters.
The $30 million bond issue garnered 2,080 (80 percent) votes from citizens who approve using the sum on repairs and upgrades at all parish schools.
The 8.32 mills renewal also received 80 percent of the vote. The measure will not be up for voting until 2019 for another renewal.
“It even looks like we will be able to lower the millage,” Lavergne said.
“Even in a very tough economy, the people saw that we had some definite needs,’’ Lavergne added. “We were very reasonable in what we asked for and the people of St. Martin Parish supported our schools.”
Already in discussions with a bond attorney, Lavergne said a speculative plan for the bonds will be to pursue three $10 million bond issue to optimize returns.
A mere 7 percent of parish voters cast ballots for the District 4 public service commissioner election, but low turnout was not exclusive to St. Martin. Only 13 percent (74,148) of the district’s 552,800 voters considered who would fill the vacant seat. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne told reporters last week he expected a 20-percent turnout for the race.
A runoff will be held May 2 to determine a victor between Clyde Holloway, who earned 43 percent support, and Joe McPherson, who earned a close second with 42 percent. Gil Pinac lagged behind with 13 percent.
Parish voters gave McPherson a slight edge with only a 4.2 percent margin over Holloway. Here too, Pinac’s support dwindled; he received only 16 percent of the parish 2,400 votes.