[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish sheriff candidates say issues are clear

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Nov 15 10:00:27 EST 2011

St. Bernard Parish sheriff candidates say issues are clear

Published: Monday, November 14, 2011, 12:30 PM

By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune

The St. Bernard Parish sheriff candidates are staying "on message" as
Saturday's election nears.

Jimmy Pohlmann, in his own words, is "the lawman," whereas Wayne Landry
pitches himself as the anti-machine or change candidate.

Landry continues his attempt to tie Pohlmann to current seven-term St.
Bernard Sheriff Jack Stephens, the longest-serving current sheriff in
Louisiana, using terms such as cronyism, patronage and "the machine,"
something he explains as the political power players in the parish with
Stephens pulling many of its strings.

One recent Landry-sponsored advertisement shows Pohlmann as a marionette
with a devious looking Stephens above him, moving his arms and legs.

Pohlmann, who runs the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff's Office and has
worked there 28 years, says voters shouldn't be fooled. "Landry has to get
it through his head that he is not running against Jack Stephens -- he is
running against Jimmy Pohlmann," Pohlmann said.

Pohlmann smiled easily last week, whereas Landry appeared haggard, his voice
hoarse. Landry, a member of the Parish Council and the son of a longtime
parish police juror, exuded his typical confidence but acknowledged that
he's fighting an uphill battle.

Pohlmann received 45 percent of the October primary vote, running 2,012
votes ahead of Landry, who garnered 30 percent.

Col. Chad Clark, also a sheriff's official, finished the primary with 18
percent of the vote -- 2,299 ballots -- and has formally endorsed Pohlmann.
Barry Bernadas, a former FBI employee who received 7 percent of the vote,
914 ballots, last week officially endorsed Landry.

While Landry and Bernadas say that Landry has not offered Bernadas a
position in his possible administration, Landry has said he sees Bernadas as
a leader in his transitional team and that he also could see himself
offering Bernadas a job down the line. Bernadas says he would happily help
with the transition and that "if the right position is offered, I would be

Landry said the primary vote in October showed "55 percent voted against the
establishment, which is Jimmy Pohlmann." Pohlmann countered that the primary
vote actually shows "70 percent of the voters want a law enforcement
candidate, particularly when the law enforcement agency we are talking about
is highly respected."

As sheriff, Landry said he would get rid of the "top brass" or "deadheads"
he says are taking up top-ranking positions and payroll. He talks of putting
more resources toward neighborhood patrols and drug enforcement.

Pohlmann said he too would reorganize the department. He acknowledged he is
in a tricky situation: battling anything tying him to the perception of
Stephens' corruption while also campaigning on his experience of running
Stephens' department on a daily basis.

Pohlmann said he presently cannot sign contracts, hire, fire, or change,
create or eliminate policy, and that in essence he has to work within the
structure that Stephens has created in his 27-year tenure as sheriff.
Nonetheless, he said "the budget needs to be scrubbed" and that he "will
realign the command structure."

"I will shake up the things that need to be shaken up and clean up the
things that need to be cleaned up," Pohlmann said. "The department will be
clearly led by Jimmy Pohlmann and no one else."

Landry complains that Pohlmann can't take credit for running the Sheriff's
Office but try to distance himself from its politics. He "can't have it both
ways," Landry said.

Landry said Pohlmann "has given voters a test drive" but "that there are
only two wheels on the ground."

Landry highlights his own education and business background as more
important than law enforcement experience for the sheriff post, which he
calls an "administrative position." Landry holds a bachelor's degree in
public administration from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, but
said he took five criminal justice classes while there.

Pohlmann, who began working at the Sheriff's Office after graduating from
high school in 1983, says he has the equivalent of a college degree by
attending "at least a thousand hours" of classes over the years at various
law enforcement academies offered by universities and the FBI.

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