Dwight named Calcasieu District Attorney

Lisa Addison

Calcasieu Parish will have a new district attorney for the first time in 15 years after Stephen Dwight was elected with 23,885 votes over Christian Chesson, who received 9,370 votes.  

Dwight garnered 72 percent of the votes while Chesson had 28 percent.

Both longtime attorneys, Dwight is a Republican while Chesson is a Democrat. Chesson also ran for district attorney in 2014.

District Attorney John DeRosier announced earlier this year he planned to retire from his position at the end of December. DeRosier, 73, was elected as district attorney three times and served in the position for 15 years but said ‘it’s time” to close the door on this chapter.

After 20 years in law and public service, Dwight said while campaigning that he was ready to bring new leadership, fiscal responsibility, and perspective on how to better serve and protect the citizens of Calcasieu Parish.

Dwight was endorsed by Sheriff Tony Mancuso early in the campaign, with Mancuso saying, “There’s nobody I trust more than Stephen Dwight to be our next district attorney.”

A graduate of Sam Houston High School, LSU and Southern University Law Center, Dwight has worked as a former city attorney, prosecutor and magistrate for the city of Westlake, general counsel for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, and as a private practice attorney at the Dwight Law Firm, which is now a partnership known as Dwight & Gary.

3rd Circuit Court of Appeal

Sharon Wilson edged out Ron Ware to become judge in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal for the 2nd District with 3,224 votes over Ware’s 2,650 votes.

Both Democrats, Wilson, had 55 percent of the votes while Ware had 45 percent.

Judge Gene Thibodeaux could not be on the ballot because he has reached the age of 70 and the law does not allow for a judge to continue serving after that age. Thibodeaux’s tenure will end on Dec. 31. He has been a 3rd Circuit judge for 28 years and the chief judge since 2004.  

Wilson is a 1988 graduate of Louisiana State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in philosophy. In 1991, she received her law degree from Paul Hebert Law Center at LSU.

Since 2014, Wilson has served as a judge for Division F of the 14th Judicial District Court. She was the first African American woman to be elected as a district judge in Calcasieu Parish.

Prior to becoming a judge, Wilson worked for both the Calcasieu and Allen Parish District Attorney’s offices.

She was recently appointed to a four-year term on the Judiciary Commission.

Wilson’s term as judge in the 14th District will come to an end on Dec. 31.

District Judge, 14th Judicial District Court (Div. G)

Judge G. Michael Canaday, incumbent, was re-elected judge of Division G in 14th Judicial District Court, with 10,398 votes over Andrew Casanave, who received 1,435 votes.

Canaday had 88 percent of the votes while Casanave took home 12 percent of the votes.

A Republican, Canaday was elected judge in 2000. He was re-elected in 2008 and again re-elected to the court unopposed in 2014, with that six-year term slated to end on Dec. 31.

His new term will begin in January.

He has served as Chief Judge of the 14th Judicial District Court, and is the senior sitting judge for civil and criminal matters.

Canaday earned his law degree at Paul Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University. Prior to being elected to the bench, Canaday worked as a lawyer in private practice in Lake Charles.

Casanave, no party, has been an attorney for 38 years, currently working for the Calcasieu Public Defenders Office. He worked for the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office for nine years and previously had his own practice.

This was Casanave’s first time running for judge. If elected, in addition to other duties of being judge, he had an interest in bail reform.

District Judge, 14th Judicial District Court (Div. H)

Kendrick J. Guidry was elected judge in Division H for the 14th Judicial District Court with 4,686 votes while Bobby Holmes received 2,490 votes.

Guidry, a Democrat, took home 65 percent of the votes while Holmes, also a Democrat, garnered 35 percent.

A lawyer, Guidry has worked in the insurance industry for more than 14 years.

Holmes was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana and as an attorney has practiced in courtrooms across the state.

District Judge, 14th Judicial District Court (Div. J)

Cynthia Guillory is the new judge for Division J in 14th Judicial District Court after receiving 3,825 votes over Sa’Trica Williams who had 1,583 votes and Brent Hawkins with 1,470 votes.

D. Shunette Thomas garnered 503 votes.

Magistrate Judge, 14th Judicial District Court

Tony Fazzio, a Republican, has been elected magistrate judge for the 14th Judicial District Court, after garnering 23,007 votes while Michael McHale received 9,240 votes.

Taking 71 percent of the votes was Fazzio while McHale, a Democrat, received 29 percent of the votes.

Fazzio and McHale are both longtime defense attorneys in Lake Charles.

Magistrate judge is a new position for the 14th Judicial District Court and is a position that was approved by the Louisiana Legislature in 2019.

The magistrate judge’s six-year term will begin Jan. 1.

City Judge, City Court, Div. B, City of Lake Charles

Some races, such as this one, were too close to call at press time.

Ron Richard, a Democrat, captured 19,761 votes.

Hope Wyatt Buford, a Republican, received 18,334 votes.

Richard is a longtime attorney and business owner.

Buford has worked as an assistant district attorney for the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office.

City Marshal, City Court, City of Lake Charles

Nathan Keller was declared the winner in the race for City Marshal, garnering 4,692 votes over Jerod Abshire, his closest competitor, who received 2,844 votes.

Keller, a Democrat, had 39 percent of the votes while Abshire had 23 percent.

Karl Gillard, a Republican, received 1,913 votes, or 16 percent; Sheila Babineaux, a Republican, took home 1,144 votes, or 10 percent; Brad Harris, a Republican, 911 votes, or 7 percent, and Ernest Mitchel, an independent, received 519 votes, or 4 percent.

Keller, who went to work for the Lake Charles Police Department in 1988, has been a corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and a captain with the department.  

He previously ran for the office in 2019.

City Judge, City Court, City of Sulphur

Charles “Charlie” Schrumpf was re-elected city judge for City Court, City of Sulphur, with 4,683 votes over Carla Sigler, his closest competitor, who took home 2,085 votes.

Harry Fontenot Jr. received 1,975 votes.

Schrumpf, a Republican, garnered 54 percent of the votes while Sigler, a Republican, had 24 percent and Fontenot, also a Republican, had 22 percent of the votes.

Sigler was a long-time prosecutor for the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office before going into private practice in 2019.

City Marshall, City Court, City of Sulphur

This was a crowded race, and all absentee votes were not in a press time.

Brandon Dever, a Republican, had 5,174 votes over Glenn Berry, a Republican, with 4,784 votes.

Jack E. Hebert, a Republican, garnered 3,9687 votes, with Tim Lafleur, a Republican, taking 1,852 votes.

Rounding out the race were Justin Sittig, no party, with 1,502 votes and Nicholas Nezat, a Republican, with 250 votes.Stephen Dwight

Special to the American Press

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