Man, these Jefferson Parish At-Large races are something. They got all the drama — a councilman allegedly cheating on his wife with an aide, a Westbank vs Eastbank battle, and millions of dollars waiting to be allocated hanging in the balance. But nothing has been more scandalous than the behind-the-scenes battle going on between two kingmakers — Sydney Torres and Greg Buisson. The former friends are battling to see who is king. The JP At-Large seat is the battleground.

If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, then neither hell nor a scorned woman hath no fury like a Sydney Torres. He feels like he’s been beat out of a business deal. Just ask Chris Bruno. You may now know him as former Civil District Court judge Chris Bruno. Up until 2020, Bruno had sat on the bench for 12 years. Then one of his rulings cost Torres a chance to buy a nightclub on Frenchmen St. Torres deemed the ruling shady. And after that, all hell and fury ensued.

JP Elections Full of Drama

By the time Torres and his PAC, Voice of The People, were done, Bruno was an ex-judge, and an accused deadbeat dad who ducked out on child support payments, while showing so much indifference to a rape victim that he made her pay her rapist $93,000. He promptly lost his re-election in a blowout.

Dominick Impastato is now the target. Impastato is a term-limited Jefferson Parish Councilman challenging incumbent Scott Walker for one of the At-Large seats. With Torres involved, the race has turned ugly. As usual it’s behind a business deal that Torres deemed shady.

Let Torres tell it, Impastato and his political consultant Gregg Buisson cost him the recycling contract in Kenner. Behind the scenes battles erupted. The result was Kenner’s mayor, a Buisson candidate, accused Torres’ company, IV Waste, of overbilling the city almost $3 million. The mayor decided it best that they take their business elsewhere. Now, Torres has made it his mission to root out what he and Walker call the political machinery of Jefferson Parish.

Torres via his PAC put Buisson on blast as the man behind the scenes propping up candidates who then allocate Jefferson Parish’s money according to Buisson’s wishes. Torres and Walker constantly call Impastato just another one of Buisson’s pawns. Simultaneously, Walker tries to distinguish himself as the candidate running for the people, not the political machinery.

Scott Walker and Dominick Impastato at a council meeting
JP Elections Full of Drama

Impastato for his part, accused Walker of being an empty suit. Also, Impastato calls Walker an outsider/place holder in office who panders to voters with political cliches but gets nothing done. Impastato says the people of Jefferson Parish need someone like him who truly understands how to maneuver politically for the parish.

As Election Day gets closer, the attacks intensify. There was a contentious debate between Walker and Impastato on WDSU’s The Hot Seat.  Impastato called Walker just one of Torres’ pawns. And then in a newly released ad, Torres’ PAC is accusing Impastato of cheating on his wife with one of his aides, which is technically politically unethical. The implication is clear: if his own wife can’t trust him, then how can voters.

The result of the race could have bigger implications than just who gets to be in office. We witnessed it shocking results in the Orleans Parish sheriff’s race. And to a lesser extent in the last Criminal District Court race, we all saw how disruptive political PACs can be. In New Orleans there’s literally a new sheriff in town.  The longest serving political officer in New Orleans who never lost a political race is now on the sidelines.  A similar scenario could be playing out in Jefferson Parish.

Related: Understanding Amendments 3 & 4

On the surface, a Walker win would appear as just an incumbent holding office. But behind the scenes, it could also officially elevate Torres to a major political broker in Jefferson Parish. The present political class would be put on notice: you can F-around if you want to, but you’ll soon find out. Come October 14th. Election Day, will see how this soap opera resolves itself.

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