METAIRIE, La. -- Three candidates signed up to run for Jefferson Parish sheriff on Day 1 of qualifying.
Those candidates are interim Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph "Joe" Lopinto, former longtime Sheriff's Office Commander John "Johnny" Fortunato, and Anthony Bloise. All three are registered Republicans.
The March 24 election will decide who's replacing former Sheriff Newell Normand, who stepped down in August to replace Garland Robinette as a talk radio host on WWL.
Normand had been sheriff since Harry Lee's death in 2007, and he handpicked Lopinto as his preferred replacement.
Normand's full-fledged support of Lopinto prompted Fortunato to retire from the Sheriff's Office after 46 years and make his own run for sheriff.
The two had this to say about each other when they qualified:
"The 46 years that I have worked here in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office far exceeds the 7 years that he's worked in the JPSO," Fortunato said. "I stood shoulder to shoulder with one of the greatest sheriffs that ever lived in Jefferson Parish -- Sheriff Harry Lee -- I attended Chiefs' meetings, involved in the day-to-day operations with what went on in the Sheriff's Department. There was never a major crime that occurred in Jefferson Parish that I was not on the scene."
"When someone says they have experience, make them prove it," Lopinto said. "When was the last time made an arrest? When was the last time he wrote a report? The 1970s. The 1970s? Law enforcement has changed tremendously since then. He served under three different sheriffs. And none of them recognized him to be the person to lead us into the future."