[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish assessor race looks wide open heading into Saturday runoff

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Nov 15 10:11:05 EST 2011

St. Bernard Parish assessor race looks wide open heading into Saturday

Published: Monday, November 14, 2011, 5:24 PM Updated: Monday, November
14, 2011, 5:26 PM

By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune

Whittled down from its initial seven-candidate field, the St. Bernard Parish
assessor's race now has a state representative competing against a part-time
assessor's office employee.`

Jaylynn Bergeron Turner and state Rep. Reed Henderson, D-Violet, captured
the top two spots, but the victor in Saturday's runoff is uncertain as
together the two received less than half the votes cast in the Oct. 22

Turner, 42, led the primary with 3,488 votes, or 28 percent of the ballots
cast, and Henderson, 59, followed with 1,894 votes, or 15 percent.

Longtime St. Bernard Parish Assessor Marlene Vinsanau, who won the office in
1995 after the death of her husband, Assessor Maurice Vinsanau, is not
seeking re-election. Maurice Vinsanau became assessor in 1976, taking over
for his father, Assessor Lewis Vinsanau, who had held the post since 1948.

Although Turner works part time in the assessor's office -- from 2002 until
Hurricane Katrina and then again from January 2010 through the present --
Vinsanau has not endorsed a candidate.

Turner's main campaign platform has been her experience working in the
assessor's office, saying she is the "only candidate with real hands-on
experience" in that office, but others have criticized her for not making
clear that her position there is only part time.

At forums, Turner was quick to say she didn't have experience in public
speaking, and she presented herself as "not a career politician," instead
trying to cast herself as "an independent, hard-working public servant."

She has emphasized her family background, saying she "was literally born
into the real estate business," with a mother and grandfather, Linda
Bergeron and Jack Buckel, who are well-known parish Realtors and appraisers.
Turner herself is a licensed realtor.

Henderson has run advertisements saying that although "my opponent is a very
nice young lady," she has "no formal education" and "no financial

He lists the past four years representing the 103rd District of the state
House of Representatives and his 37 years of business experience, about 20
as a financial adviser. He points to his bachelor's degree in business
administration from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and has
frequently pointed out how Turner has only a high school diploma.

Henderson has said the current political race should not be about "the
popularity of either candidate" but instead "about finance." He says the
future assessor needs the "proper education and training" to handle large
financial decisions, as the assessor is responsible for establishing the
value of parish property, currently pegged at about $358 million.

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