The race is on for Louisiana Senate District 20, which covers Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. The Senate seat is currently held by Norby Chabert, who took the seat in a special election to replace Senator Reggie Dupre. It is the same seat held by Norby’s late father Leonard Chabert from 1980-1991 and his brother, Marty Chabert, from 1992-1996. Norby has held the seat since 2009 and cannot run again due to term limits.
At press time, three candidates have announced their intention to run for the seat.
The first is Michael “Big Mike” Fesi Sr., a local businessman. Fesi is the founder and chairman of Pipeline Construction & Maintenance, Inc.
(PCM), a local oil and gas industry service company, which has operated out of Houma for more than 20 years. Fesi challenged Chabert for this seat in 2015, and is excited to run again.
“The encouragement from the community has been overwhelming and humbling. I’m officially announcing my campaign, because I’m on a mission to improve the direction of our state. I saw the potential of our community last time and believe now, more than ever, that we can unify our parishes to bring about the reforms we so desperately need.”
Fesi is a self-proclaimed “common sense conservative” and a registered Republican. In 2016 he was selected as an at-large delegate to the Republican National Convention, supporting now-President Donald Trump. He is also a member of the Republican State Central Committee, representing District 20. Fesi is an advocate for pro-life causes and is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.
Fesi is also involved in the community. His motto, “Big Mike Cares” speaks to his efforts locally. He has given back greatly to the community over the years, including several weekly lunches to veterans at the Regional Military Museum, donating to cancer patients at the holidays, Christmas bike giveaways, and providing volunteer and financial support at MacDonell Children’s Services.
Dr. Brenda Leroux Babin, a Houma Democrat, has also announced her candidacy. The coastal scientist, educator, and businesswoman stated, “I am running for this seat because I have Faith in Our People, Hope for Our Future, and a Love for Louisiana and Our Bayou Region. I am planning to continue the successful leadership that this district has had in the past. When I first voted, we elected Leonard Chabert to this seat. That was followed by Marty Chabert, Dr. Mike Robichaux, Reggie Dupre, and now Senator Norby Chabert.”
After spending 8 years representing District 5 on the Terrebonne Parish School Board, Dr. Babin wants to continue this service to the community in the state senate. Dr. Babin is a proud Nicholls graduate with degrees in English education and Curriculum and Instruction. She also has a Master’s degree in Ministry from Loyola University New Orleans. And she holds a PhD in Oceanography and Coastal Science from Louisiana State University.
Currently, Dr. Babin owns and operates several local businesses: Busy Bee Clinic, her computer training and support center, provides workforce development as well as personal enrichment, Bee Cool Snowballs strives to promote Louisiana culture while providing healthy treats, and most recently she acquired the brand and lifestyle apparel business, Bayou Strong. She spent 10 years monitoring the coast as IT Director at LUMCON and 30 plus years as an educator in Terrebonne Parish Schools, at Nicholls State University, Louisiana State University and now at Fletcher Technical Community college where she teachers computer science as an adjunct instructor.
Dr. Babin takes an active leadership role in service to the community. Currently, she is president of the Keep Terrebonne Beautiful Board of Directors, serves on the Houma Downtown Development Corporation, the Houma Travel and Visitors Board, and the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts Louisiana East. Dr. Babin is an active member of the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Bayou Industrial Group, a member of the Mother Teresa Women’s Giving Circle, and the Loyal Knight of the Houma Elks Lodge #1193. She is an active member of Annunziata Catholic Church where she serves as a lector.
Houma businessman, attorney, and former State Representative, Damon J. Baldone, Republican, has announced that he too is running to replace term limited Senator Norby Chabert for Senate District 20.
“After being term limited in 2012, having served my three terms in the legislature, I came back home to work back in the private sector. There is no other place in the world I would rather live and I want to see our area get the best representation possible. I have the skills and work ethic to make sure that Lafourche’s and Terrebonne’s voices are heard in Baton Rouge,” Baldone’s press release reads.
A lifelong resident of Terrbonne Parish, Baldone opened his law practice in Houma in 1992. In addition to being a practicing attorney, Baldone also is a real estate broker, representing buyers and sellers as well as managing residential and commercial real estate that he owns. In the oil and gas sector, he owns and operates Baldone Oil & Gas, LLC as well as Baldone Offshore, LLC, a boat company. Baldone also owns the Dansereau House Bed and Breakfast in Thibodaux and co-owns Laundry Diva, LLC, a commercial laundry company servicing the hotel industry.
As State Representative from 2001-2012, Baldone served on the Commerce Committee, Ways & Means, and was Vice-Chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee. He also was appointed by Governors Foster, Blanco, and Jindal to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Restoration, as well as the DWI Task Force. He also served on the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater Diversion Committee. In 2017, Baldone was appointed Public Service Commissioner for District 2 for the State of Louisiana.
Since the age of 14, Baldone has always given back to the community by volunteering as a softball coach, soccer coach, as well as with United Way, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, TARC, South Louisiana Wetland’s Discovery Center, and Nicholls State University Business Department Advisory Board.
The election is slated for Oct. 12. If more than two candidates run, and one garners 50 percent of the votes plus one, that person will be the winner. If that doesn’t occur then the two candidates with the greatest number of votes will face a run-off on Nov. 16. •