Joe Lopinto

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Joseph Peter "Joe" Lopinto, III


Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
Incumbent
Assumed office 
July 25, 2017
Preceded by Newell Normand

Louisiana State Representative for District 80 in Jefferson Parish
In office
January 14, 2008 – 2016
Preceded by Charles Lancaster
Succeeded by Polly Thomas

Born June 11, 1976
Nationality Italian-American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lauren Lopinto
Children Joey and Lily (twins)
Residence Metairie, Jefferson Parish
Alma mater Brother Martin High School

Loyola University in New Orleans
Loyola University Law School

Occupation Attorney; law enforcement officer 
Religion Roman Catholic

Joseph Peter Lopinto, III, known as Joe Lopinto (born June 11, 1976), an attorney from Metairie, Louisiana, is the sheriff of populous Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans. A Republican, he served as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, having represented District 80 from 2008 until his resignation in 2016 to rejoin the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department. In 2017, Lopinto became sheriff upon the resignation of Moderate Republican Newell Normand.

Background

Lopinto graduated in 1994 from the Roman Catholic Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. He then obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate from Loyola University and the Loyola Law School, two other Catholic institutions in New Orleans.[1]

Political career

Lopinto was elected to the legislature in 2007 to succeed the term-limited Republican Charles Doerr Lancaster, Jr. In the nonpartisan blanket primary, unique to Louisiana and California, Lopinto defeated another Republican, Glenn Lee, 6,170 (58.6 percent) to 4,357 (41.4 percent).[2] He was the vice chair of the House Commerce Committee and a member of the Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice.[3] In his first term, Lopinto backed the positions of the Louisiana Right to Life Federation and the Louisiana Family Forum 100 percent of the time. He sided with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a type of statewide chamber of commerce, 88 percent of the time.[4]

Lopinto was reelected to the House in the primary held on October 22, 2011.[5] Lopinto has also held the District 80 seat on the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee.[6] On entering his third House term on January 11, 2016, Lopinto announced his support for the liberal Democrat Walt Leger, III, of New Orleans as the state House Speaker. Leger was the choice of Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards.[7] However, in an upset, lawmakers chose not Leger as Speaker but Republican Taylor Barras, a more conservative representative from New Iberia in south Louisiana.[8]

Lopinto joined the sheriff's office in 1997, first as a patrol officer and then a narcotics detective. He returned to the patrol division so that he could attend Loyola Law School at night. He left the agency in 2004 and was in the private practice of law until he returned as executive counsel to Sheriff Normand in 2016. After eight years in the legislature, he stepped down to rejoin the sheriff's office. Lopinto succeeded to the sheriff's position when Normand stepped down tin 2017 to host a radio talk show on station WWL in New Orleans.[9]

Lopinto narrowly defeated his opponent, fellow Republican John Fortunato, 42,467 (52 percent) to 39,165 (48 percent), in the special election to fill Normand's unexpired term held on March 24, 2018. Just over 30 percent of registered voters cast ballot.[10] Fortunato has forty-six years experience in law enforcement. He was for years the press spokesman for Normand's predecessor as sheriff, Harry Lee, a Democrat of Chinese descent who rarely drew serious opposition for the position. Lopinto again faces voters in the 2019 regular state and parish elections. [9]

The race with Fortunato was divisive and in the words of The New Orleans Advocate "pugnaciouis".[11] Questions arose in the campaign regarding three unnamed Lopinto deputies who allegedly eavesdropped and obtained surveillance footage at a Jefferson Parish coffee house in the fall of 2017 to gain information on opponent Fortunato, who was meeting with two other men who once were employed by the sheriff's office. Lopinto said that the three deputies acted without his consent and would be "counseled." The Baton Rouge Advocate called upon Lopinto to release quickly the results of his department investigation into the matter: "Whether or not they flashed their badges, the deputies' employment as officers shouldn't include moonlighting as political snoops. That can only serve to confuse the difference between police power and the public good."[12]

In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 12, 2019, Lopinto won a full term as sheriff, having polled 66,540 votes (62 percent). Again, John Fortunato opposed Lopinto; he received 33,928 votes (32 percent). Anthony Bloise, the Libertarian Party nominee, polled the remaining 6,441 votes (6 percent). Lopinto ran more than 7,600 votes ahead of Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, who drew 58,916 votes (53 percent) in Jefferson Parish. Turnout among registered voters in the sheriff's race was 39.7 percent.[13]

References

  1. Rep. Joseph Lopinto. congress.org. Retrieved on August 28, 2011.
  2. Louisiana primary election returns. staticresults.sos.la.gov (October 20, 2007). Retrieved on August 28, 2011.
  3. Rep. Joseph P. Lopinto. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on August 28, 2011.
  4. Rep. Joseph P. Lopinto, III. votesmart.org. Retrieved on August 28, 2011.
  5. State of Louisiana, Primary election returns, October 22, 2011
  6. Election Returns. staticresults.sos.la.gov (March 24, 2012). Retrieved on March 24, 2018.
  7. The Moon Griffon Show, December 17, 2015.
  8. The Moon Griffon Show, January 11, 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Jim Mustian and Faimon Roberts, III (January 6, 2018). In heated Jefferson sheriff race, candidates battle over whose experience is better. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on January 7, 2018.
  10. Election Returns. Louisiana Secretary of State (March 24, 2018). Retrieved on March 24, 2018.
  11. Jim Mustian (March 24, 2018). Joe Lopinto fends off John Fortunato in special election for Jefferson sheriff. The New Orleans Advocate. Retrieved on March 24, 2018.
  12. Our Views: Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto should release investigation results immediately. The Baton Rouge Advocate (January 17, 2018). Retrieved on January 17, 2018.
  13. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 12, 2019.