Joe Lopinto becomes Jefferson Parish’s elected sheriff—

Joe Lopinto will become the elected sheriff of Jefferson Parish, earning 52 percent of the vote over former department spokesman John Fortunato in Saturday’s (March 24) election.

“From the bottom of our heart, we are humbled by your support. We thank you for being with us,” Lopinto told supporters packed into his victory party at the New Orleans Marriott Metairie at Lakeway, surrounded by his family, friends and some elected officials.

Lopinto and Fortunato were locked in a contentious battle to replace former Sheriff Newell Normand, who unexpectedly retired in Aug. 31 to become a host on talk radio. Normand’s unexpired term ends in 2020.

Lopinto, 41, worked as a deputy for seven years before earning a law degree from Loyola University. He was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2007 and headed the criminal justice committee.

Lopinto returned the Sheriff’s Office in 2016 as the department’s in-house counsel before Normand appointed him chief deputy and, later, chief of operations. Lopinto took over leadership of the department after Normand stepped down.

Lopinto raised well over $1 million in his campaign against Fortunato, 66, a retired colonel and longtime spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office. Both candidates challenged the other’s claims of experience during the race.

Fortunato had an overwhelming lead in October, shortly after he announced his intention to run. But Lopinto closed that gap in the months that followed, with dueling polls showing a tight race.
“Seven months ago, the citizens of Jefferson Parish didn’t know who I was,” Lopinto said Saturday night.

“Over the last seven months, we showed them who Joe Lopinto was. We showed them that I have the experience, the capability, the education to bring Jefferson Parish forward,” he said. “We’re just beginning, y’all.”