Grosse Tete elections: Chauffe, Sarullo face off again in mayor’s race

Deidre Cruse

Four years ago, then Grosse Tete Alderman Michael D. Chauffe Sr. took a two-vote victory over nine-term incumbent mayor Philip “Tunnie” Sarullo. They will re-run the race on Saturday.

Both mayoral candidates have their eye on infrastructure improvements for the North Iberville municipality.

Incumbent Police Chief Tommy Dardenne, facing a challenge from Lawrence H. Pate Sr., wants to take the village’s police department full-time.

And, the three incumbents on the Board of Aldermen – C. Richard David, Larry David and Juanita J. Hill – are among five candidates vying for the three seats on the board. James “Bobby” Blanchard and Kyle Booksh want a place there as well.

Sarullo said he had left behind projects – such as completing the village’s sewerage system and upgrading water lines -- that he wanted to finish up.

“I’d like to do 10 terms,” the the 76-year-old former mayor said. “I’ve got a lot of time. I like to do it. I like to fool with people, like to be around them. I did it for 36 years, and I’d just like to go ahead on. My health is good.”

Chauffe has his own list of projects, including the water and sewerage lines, that he wants to see to completion in a second term in the office.

“We’ve got it going on. We don’t sleep much around here,” the incumbent said. “...I feel I’m the best qualified for the job, and I’m dedicated to the citizens and to a better qualify of life here.”

In the nearly four years since he left office, Sarullo said he has been working his little farm with cattle on it, handled a few rent houses, traveled a bit and stayed active in his church.

“Whenever someone needs some help, I go ahead and help them,” the former mayor said.

The sewerage improvements, which he started, are nearly 50 percent complete, Sarullo said.

Angelloz Subdivision is in the process of being included in the system, he said, but grant funds are needed to complete the work.

Chauffe said the town has $1.5 million in grant funding for a sewerage project north of I-10. He expected start the project as soon as the state approves the blueprints fo the project, with bids going out before the end of the year.

“I intend to apply for more capital outlay funds to expand the sewage collection system on the east side of Bayou Grosse Tete, north and south of I-10 along Sidney Road,” Chauffe said. With that the system would be 99 percent complete, he said; the only street left out would be on with four homes on it, including his own residence.

The incumbent mayor said he planned to replace two-inch water lines with six-inch lines to upgrade the water system and allow installation of fire hydrants on La. 77 south of Town Hall, in Angelloz Subdivision and on Sidney Road south of I-10.

“There were sidewalks that I started when I left,” Sarullo said. “There was money there when I left, but I haven’t seen anything, read anything about it.”

Chauffe said the state pulled $175,000 from the sidewalk project after Hurricane Katrina three years ago. But, he said he has since got that money back, plus another $150,000 he applied for.

The incumbent said he wanted to continue with a program of installing culverts and enclosing ditches, a project he said reduced the town’s labor costs, improved drainage, cut down on mosquitoes and added safety for roads where there were no shoulders.

He also plans to go to an electronic water meter reading system to reduce labor costs. Once the new meters are installed throughout Grosse Tete, the maintenance supervisor could read meters from a pick-up truck, Chauffe said, adding that billing also would be automated.

Chauffe also wants to continue a six-week summer education and recreation program that served 40 to 50 children last summer.

Police Chief Dardenne, running for a fourth term in office, cites his education and experience in law enforcement. He is an LSU Post Certified officer, who has additional certification in law enforcement administration, handling domestic violence cases and other aspects of police work.

He also works as an Iberville Sheriff’s deputy, including five years of experience in policing narcotics, both in the canine corps and highway patrol.

“I’m running again to try to continue providing and upgrading the services I offer the people who live in our community,” the incumbent said. “I believe I’m the better man for the job than the man running against me.”

Pate, a one-time sheriff’s deputy, did not return the newspaper’s calls for an interview for this story.

“I hope in the next four years, I can convince the city council to work with me to put a full-time department back in place,” Dardenne said.