October 2 election 21 candidates vie for 9 School Board seats

DEIDRE CRUSE, Gorernmental Reporter

Challengers are contesting the re-election bids of nine of the 15 incumbent Iberville Parish School Board members in the Saturday, October 2, primary elections.

Six incumbent board members won without opposition – Glyna M. Kelley in District C, Paul B. Distefano in District E, Michael “Chief” Barbee of District F, Dorothy R. Sansoni of District H and Brian S. Willis of District J, all in the Plaquemine area, and Albertha Davis “Alp” Hasten of White Castle in District N.

The POST/SOUTH sent questionnaires out to all candidates in contested races, and used other information where it was available.

Four years ago, 15 candidates competed for six school board positions. This year 21 are vying for these nine:

District A

Maringouin Area

Incumbent Stanley Washington faces opposition from insurance company owner Karen “Kay” Jewell and postal worker Donald Ray Patterson in his bid for a second term in office.

Jewell, 44, was graduated from Shady Grove High School in 1984 and became self-employed the same year at Jewell Insurance, where she is an owner and an agent. She attended LSU for three years.

“I will be a strong voice in Plaquemine for our children, teachers and support workers,” Jewell said on her candidate's questionnaire. “I will forge a good relationship with my fellow board members to insure that our children get the resources needed for a good quality education. I will fight very hard to decrease our drop-out rate by making every student feel needed in order for our school system to succeed. I will demand our fair share!”

Gov. Bobby Jindal appointed Jewell to the Atchafalaya Basin Levee Board in 2009. For 10 years, she has been youth minister for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Joseph's Confirmation Class.

She is married to Iberville Parish Council Chairman Matthew H. Jewell and is the mother of three boys.

Patterson, 56, who has worked for the postal service for 12 years, is pastor and founder of the One Accord Ministry of Unification in Maringouin.

He hopes to improve the relationship between parents and teachers, to keep North Iberville informed on changes in the school system and to advance school programs to “make sure all our children get a quality education and a fair chance, even those who have problems and may be a little slower than others.”

Patterson attended Upper Maringouin, Thomas A. Levy and Shady Grove High schools.

He is married to Janet Patterson and is the father of six.

Washington, 45, did not return his candidate's questionnaire for this election. Four years ago, he told the POST/SOUTH he was a maintenance supervisor for the Iberville Parks and recreation District (IPRD).

Before his election to the School Board four years ago, he had served for eight years as a Maringouin alderman. He has coached North Iberville Little League and Biddy Basketball, and worked as a volunteer fireman, first responder and Red Cross shelter volunteer.

He and his wife, Larose Adams Washington, are the parents of three daughters.

District B

Grosse Tete/Rosedale area

Grosse Tete Municipal Clerk Pamela George, a former School Board employee, is challenging incumbent Davis J. “Worm” Daigle of Grosse Tete, who faced an unsuccessful recall petition attempt after he voted to close North Iberville High School last year.

Daigle, 50, said he hopes to open a facility similar to the Math Science and Arts Academy in the north end of the parish.  The president of Daigle Ice Inc. since 1983, he is seeking a fourth term on the board.

“...(My) goal is to continue to improve the quality of education offered in our parish,” Daigle said on his questionnaire. “I want to provide opportunities for children by educating them at a high standard. After experiencing success with the Math, Science and Arts academies, east and west, I hope to open a similar facility in the north end of the parish.”

Daigle attended Nicholls State University for two years. He is a member of the Iberville Chamber of Commerce and the Knights of Columbus.

He is married to Laura Wille Daigle and is the father of four daughters.

George, 46, a Plaquemine native making her first run for public office, worked for the School Board as a clerical aide and administrative secretary for eight years before taking her current job in 2005.

“I intend to be a voice for the voters of District B,” she said on her questionnaire. “I plan to be involved with the happenings at North Iberville School [and] to use every available resource to make sure we don't lose our elementary school.”

George is a member of the Louisiana Municipal Clerks' Association, which she has served as a trustee for the past three years. She currently serves on the association's budget and certification committees.

She works closely with Keep Iberville Beautiful and the cleanest cities organization, and is working to start a garden club in the Grosse Tete area.

She is married to Timmy George, and is the mother of three sons and three stepchildren and the guardian of a minor sibling.

District D

Plaquemine area

Two first-time candidates – Rhett E. Marionneaux and Donna R. Purpera, are challenging incumbent Michael J. Hebert Jr. in his bid for a second term.

Hebert, 30, a lifelong resident of Iberville Parish, is an office manager for T. T. Barge Mile 237 Repair.

“I will continue to push for strong disciplinary programs, along with tight truancy regulations to increase student attendance and reduce the number of student suspensions and expulsions,” he said. “It is important that we continue to grow in student population throughout the parish. We must continue to improve and stay up to date with all computer technology programs. I strongly support the MSA Academy, career programs and 100 percent teacher certification.”

Hebert attended Crescent Elementary School and was graduated from Plaquemine High School in 1993. He earned a B.S. Degree in industrial technology from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2004.

He has served as league director of the Plaquemine Biddy Basketball Association and as an assistant basketball coach of the Plaquemine Blue Devils.

Marionneaux, 68, a Plaquemine native, retired after 39 years at Albemarle Research and Development Center.

He is running on a platform of no new taxes, a quality education for all students and “common sense spending.”

The candidate attended Crescent Elementary and was graduated from Plaquemine High School. He holds a B.S. Degree from Southeastern Louisiana University. He is a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.

He is married to Beverly A. Marionneaux, who retired from Crescent Elementary after 18 years with the Iberville Parish School System. He is the father of two.

Purpera, 59, has lived in the parish for 36 years and has been an administrative engineering assistant at Georgia Gulf for the past 33 years.

She promises to represent the district with “honesty, integrity and dedication for the betterment of all our children, work on getting greater resources for all the children...[and] tighten fiscal control.”

Purpera attended public school and holds an associate degree plus extra credits in accounting and computer programming.

She has taught Junior Achievement Classes in the public schools, participated in organizing the Parish Science Fair and helped students get their required school, community and church service hours.

The candidate is a member of the Iberville Chamber of Commerce and of the Iberville Cancer Society Board who is active with Relay for Life. She has served on the Heart Association Board and has worked with Habitat for Humanity. Her church work includes being a Eucharist minister and a First Communion Class teacher.

She is the mother of three and grandmother of seven, all Iberville Parish residents.

District G

Plaquemine Area

Incumbent Tom Delahaye, seeking a fourth term in office, faces opposition from first-time candidate and Dow Chemical retiree Billy Dunn Sr.

Delahaye, 48, a lifelong resident of Iberville Parish, was a member of the law firm of Canova and Delahaye for 18 years before becoming managing member of CST Land Developers LLC in 2009.

In a new term, Delahaye said he wants to continue to increase pay for teachers and support workers, strengthen discipline policies, eliminate wasteful spending, and improve academic and vocational programs.

His campaign literature notes that he voted against insurance benefits for school board members and for a reduction in the size of the school board.

Delahaye is a 1980 graduate of St. John High School. He earned a B.A. degree in history from Loyola University in 1984 and a jurist doctorate from Loyola Law School in 1987.

He is a member of the Iberville Chamber of Commerce, which he served as chairman of the board from 1996-98, and is a member of St. John the Evangelist Church.

He is married to Nancy Arbour Delahaye and is the father of two.

Dunn, 56, an Iberville resident since 1992, retired from Dow Chemical in 2006 after 33 years. He currently works as a part-time instructor and consultant at Westgate. He describes himself as an “independent conservative candidate,”

“If elected,” he said, “I will work to improve our children's educational future by delivering transparency and integrity on all IPSB issues; promoting civic duty, civic price and civic leadership; striving for more community involvement; eliminating wasteful spending; [encouraging] fiscal responsibility, [and] ensuring accountability and fairness.”

Dunn is a 1971 graduate of Slidell High School.

He is married to the former Sara Migliacio.

District I

Plaquemine Area

Long-time school bus driver Earl Pania is opposing incumbent Yolanda Butler Laws, seeking her second full term.

Laws, 46, began her tenure on the board as an appointee filling the unexpired term of Thomas J. “Tiny” Edwards. She is owner of JEY Laws Enterprises LLC of Plaquemine.

Laws said she wants to continue representing the district by making sure the children and schools are given opportunities based on their needs, staying abreast of the challenges of public education is facing and continuing to offer high-quality programs even though state funding has declined.

Among the future projects she intends to support are providing 21st Century classrooms throughout the district and extensive professional development for the laptop computer initiative.

A 1982 graduate of Plaquemine High School, Laws earned a B.S. degree in computer science from Southern University in 1987 and an MBA in finance from the University of LaVerne, California, in 1997.

A member of the Berean 7th Adventist Church, she is married to Ernest Laws and the mother of a daughter who attends public school here.

Pania did not return his candidate's questionnaire.

District K

St. Gabriel

Incumbent Nancy T. Broussard, seeking her fifth term on the board, faces a challenge from Sunshine resident Annette A. Brigalia.

Broussard is a retired social worker that has volunteered extensively with local, state and national education organizations.

“I will use my considerable knowledge and experience as a board member and parent volunteer for 16 years to continue striving to increase academic opportunities and achievement levels for all students,” she said on her candidate's questionnaire. “I will continue to work toward the completion and success of the Math, Science and Arts Academy magnet programs which I fought hard to start on the Eastside. The academies are already bringing local families back to public education.”

Broussard said she also wants to ensure the success of programs that increase discipline and safety in the schools, and said she had provided key leadership in implementing the alternative school for disruptive students, zero tolerance for violence, peer mediation and conflict resolution and, most recently, the system's anti-bullying program.

Broussard was graduated magna cum laude in 1977 with a B. A. degree from LSU. She earned a masters degree in social work there the next year.

She has been a member and volunteer with the Parent-Teacher-Student Association for more than 20 years. She served for several years each on the East Iberville/Industry School Committee and the St. Gabriel Healthy Community Committee, and a year each on the Iberville Parish 4-H Foundation and Carville Job Corps Community Relations Council.

Broussard was elected twice to the Board of Directors of the Louisiana School Boards Association (LSBA), and served for several years as its representative to the state Department of Education's Title I Committee on funding for low-income students. She is a past chair of the LSBA's regional Legislative Committee, and served for three years on the National School Boards Association's Federal Relations Network, a congressional liaison committee.

As a member of the St. Gabriel Catholic Church, she has served as a Pastoral Council member, Lector, Eucharistic minister, Welcome Committee member and Church Picnic co-chair and volunteer.

Brigalia did not return her questionnaire.

District L

White Castle/Bayou Goula Area

First-time candidate and former teacher Irene Delone Dennis is challenging incumbent Freddie “Sam” Molden III, the longest-serving School Board member. Dennis is Molden’s sister-in-law.

Dennis, 60, has been the owner of Iberville Rehab for the past 10 years. Before that, she taught school in West Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge, Assumption and Ascension parishes.

She said she hopes to “help promote the well-being of our children and make a difference, to be a voice for my district.”

Dennis said she wants to encourage board members to be more visible in schools, and hopes to develop working relationships with schools, teachers, parents and students.

She earned a B. S. degree in secondary education in 1982 and a master’s degree in education in 1990 at Southern University.

Dennis is a member of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church of White Castle.

Married to Raymond P. Dennis Sr., she is the mother of three boys and grandmother of six.

Molden did not provide information for this article.

District M

St. Gabriel area

Incumbent Melvin Lodge, the current president of the School Board, faces opposition from two men – Russell Redditt and Felton “Popie” Williams Jr.

Neither Lodge nor Redditt provided information.

Williams, 60, is a former leaderman at the L.B.C. Petro United Terminal. He served as a justice of the peace form 1988-90, and ran for School Board in 1990.

The first thing he would like to accomplish is to “keep our children here,” Williams said on his candidate's questionnaire.

He attended Sunshine High School, a trade school in 1968 and a business trade class in 1969.

Williams serve for two years as president of the water board serving the St. Gabriel area. He is a Baptist.

District O

White Castle area

District voters will choose between incumbent Darlene Ourso, a teacher and coach seeking a third term in office, and retired plant worker Kenneth Burleigh.

Ourso, 50, was a teacher and coach at White Castle High School for two and a half years before joining the board in 2003. She now teaches and coaches in the Ascension Parish School System.

“I will be an independent voice for the children and voters of the parish, while continuing to be an advocate for fiscal responsibility and a quality education for all children,” she said on her questionnaire. “While encouraging parents to get involved in their child's education, I will challenge our administrators and teachers to have high expectations for our students so they can excel in this forever-changing world.”

Ourso said she wanted to add new technology to all public school classrooms, explore making the Math, Science and Arts (MSA) Academy a true magnet school program with higher admission standards and discuss with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association the requirements for offering athletics at the magnet schools.

A 1977 graduate of White Castle High School, Ourso earned a B.A. in teaching at Sam Houston State University in 1981 and a masters in administration and supervision from Southern University in 2001.

She is a member of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church, the Louisiana School Boards Association, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and the Louisiana High School Coaches Association.

Burleigh, a lifelong resident of the White Castle area and a graduate of White Castle High, retired from Rubicon Inc., in Geismar after 33 and a half years on the job, the last 18 as a shift supervisor. His wife, Pam, works at MSA-West. He did not return his candidate's questionnaire.