Political foes face off in run for Ascension Sheriff

The race for sheriff in Ascension Parish will be one to keep an eye on.  It features two long-time political foes.

Current Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley now finds himself facing a campaign against a man he ran against 16 years ago.  Thursday morning, the former Commissioner of Alcohol and Tobacco, Murphy Painter, put his name in the mix and word spread.  Some say it could get interesting, others say it's too soon for Painter to seek elected office.

1995 is the last time Wiley and Painter faced off in an election.

"I lost by less than one percent of the vote," Painter said.  Actually, official returns from 1995 show Wiley secured the sheriff's race with 51% of the vote.  Painter pulled in 49%.

Wiley has been sheriff since that 1995 run.

9 News tried to reach Wiley for comment.  Calls into both Wiley's offices and home were unreturned.  After two visits to his office in Gonzales we were told he the sheriff was unavailable.

Now unemployed, Painter says he's giving the people of the parish a choice.

Surrounding allegations of performing illegal background checks and abusing his office, Painter resigned as ATC commissioner last year.  Painter's former secretary also sued him for sexually harassing her. That was settled out of court.

"I've never done anything unethical, illegal, immoral or anything else with any office I've ever had," said Painter.

Some we spoke with told us off camera, given everything involving Painter's former position, they think it's too soon for him to get back into public service.  As one resident told us, "It's going to be an close, tight race."

Wiley has been with the sheriff's office since 1974.  Painter served as chief criminal deputy for the sheriff's office from 1974-1988.

A third man, Louis Boudreaux from Donaldsonville also, is also running for Ascension Parish Sheriff.

Elections are October 22.

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