Johnny Berthelot

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John Alan "Johnny" Berthelot

Louisiana State Representative for District 88 (Ascension Parish)
In office
January 2012 – January 20, 2020
Preceded by Mert Smiley
Succeeded by Kathy Edmonston

Mayor of Gonzales, Louisiana
In office
Succeeded by Barney Arceneaux

Born November 28, 1951
Gonzales, Ascension Parish, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Paula Chauvin Berthelot
Children Three children
Alma mater East Ascension High School

Louisiana State University
(real estate extension course)

Occupation Businessman
Religion Roman Catholic

John Alan Berthelot, known as Johnny Berthelot (born November 28, 1951),[1] is a Republican departing member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 88, based in his hometown of Gonzales in eastern Ascension Parish near the capital city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Berthelot was the mayor of his native Gonzales from 1985 until 2008.

The son of J. O. Berthelot and the former Doris Hebert, the Roman Catholic Berthelot attended St. Theresa Catholic School and Gonzales High School. In 1969, he graduated from East Ascension High School. In 1970, he graduated from New Orleans Barber College. He studied in the continuing education program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and in 1975 completed the course in real estate.[2]

Political career

From 1976 to 1984, Berthelot served on the Gonzales City Council and as mayor pro tem. Elected mayor at the age of thirty-two in 1984, he advocated for reduced taxes and sound municipal finances. After his first election, he was unopposed for reelection for his last five terms.[2] Berthelot recalls that when he became mayor, the city had to borrow $75,000 from the Bank of Gonzales at 4 percent interest to renovate two water towers. "We now have $20 million (unrestricted) in reserve. We’re probably in the best financial shape of any city our size in the United States," said Berthelot late in 2008, as he prepared to turn over his office to Barney Arceneaux, the current mayor.[3]

Berthelot credits the conservative approach to finances that has sustained Gonzales: “When interest rates were double digit, we invested and made money on our interest. The lifeblood of our city is the 2 percent in sales tax we receive, totaling over $10 million a year. This is the main source of revenue." Gonzales is the commercial center for the River Parishes, with some 100,000 shoppers in the city on a daily basis.[3] Berthelot learned after his election that he was a great-nephew of the founder and first mayor of Gonzales, Joseph "Tee-Joe" Gonzales. Berthelot's father, J. O. Berthelot, also served on the city council and was known for his anti-litter eradication efforts. The family resided two blocks from city hall.[3]

Shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Mayor Berthelot and Gonzales Police Chief Bill Landry delivered a fire truck donated by the state of Louisiana to municipal firefighters in New York City. The two appeared at the time on NBC's The Today Show, then with host Katie Couric.[3]

In 2011, Berthelot was elected to succeed fellow Republican Mert Smiley in the legislature; Smiley instead was narrowly elected as the Ascension Parish assessor. In the primary held on October 22, Berthelot was the runaway winner, 6,766 votes (71.4 percent). Another Republican, Coral Lambert, trailed with 1,377 votes (14.5 percent). A Democrat, Gary J. Lacombe, finished third with 1,331 votes (14.1 percent).[4]

In 2018, Berthelot remained uncommitted to the call for higher taxes to close a state budget deficit pushed by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. Prior to a third special session on taxation, Berthelot said the is "not committed to being one way or the other. I’m still listening." Berthelot added that some constituents say "‘Thanks for holding the line, thanks for not giving in.’ Others say: ‘Why not vote for the half (penny renewal)? It’s not a big difference.’”[5]

Personal life

Berthelot and his wife, the former Paula Chauvin, have three children, Shelly, Kelly, and Brad, and five grandchildren, Payton, Reid, Lennon, Gabe, and Grant.[2] They have a camp at Graveyard Island on the Belle River.[3]

Berthelot is known for his Rotary International-endorsed jambalaya recipe.[6]


  1. John Berthelot. Retrieved on September 12, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 About Johnny Berthelot. Retrieved on May 18, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Annabelle Armstrong, "Gonzales mayor leaving office". Retrieved on May 18, 2012.
  4. Primary election returns, October 22, 2011. Retrieved on May 18, 2012.
  5. Tyler Bridges (June 8, 2018). 20 Republicans in Louisiana House will decide fate of 1/2-cent sales tax renewal in next special session. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on June 11, 2018.
  6. Jambalahya Recipe by Mayor John A. Berthelot. Retrieved on May 18, 2012.