Joel Chaisson

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Joel Thomas Chaisson, II
Member of the Louisiana Senate
from the 19th district
In office
Preceded by Ron Landry
Succeeded by Gary Smith, Jr.
President of the Louisiana State Senate
In office
January 14, 2008 – January 9, 2012
Preceded by Donald E. Hines
Succeeded by John Alario
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 56th district
In office
Preceded by Ralph A. Miller
Succeeded by Gary Smith, Jr.
Personal details
Born August 21, 1960
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sandra Stage Chaisson
Children One daughter, Martine Chaisson
Occupation Attorney; politician

Joel Thomas Chaisson, II (born August 21, 1960) is an American Democratic politician who is currently the District Attorney in St. Charles Parish in suburban New Orleans, Louisiana.

Chaisson is a former Louisiana State Senator who represented Senate District 19 in St. Charles Parish from 2000 to 2012. He was also President of the Louisiana State Senate from 2008-2012. Chaisson served in the Louisiana House of Representatives representing House District 56 in St. Charles Parish from 1992 to 2000.

Political career[edit]

St. Charles Parish council[edit]

In 1983, at the age of 23 he was elected to his first political office as a member of the St. Charles Parish Council, a combination city-county position. St. Charles Parish is a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana and is considered part of the New Orleans metropolitan area. Its parish seat is Hahnville, Louisiana located on the west bank of the Mississippi River. [1]

Louisiana State house[edit]

In 1991, Chaisson was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 56 in St. Charles Parish. In the primary on October 19, 1991, he trailed the Democratic incumbent, Ralph R. Miller, 7,104 (46 percent) to 6,570 (43 percent). The remaining 1,780 votes (12 percent) went to Emile J. Garlepied, another Democrat. In the November 16 state-wide election, Chaisson unseated Miller, 9,023 (51 percent) to 8,604 (49 percent). Chaisson won his second term in the state house in 1995 when he defeated Republican Robert "Bobby" Riggs, 9,759 (63 percent) to 5,736 (37 percent) in the primary.[citation needed]

Louisiana State senate[edit]

In 2000, Chaisson was elected to the Louisiana State Senate representing Senate District 19 in St. Charles Parish. In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 23, 1999, Chaisson unseated fellow Democrat Ron Landry in the Senate election – 20,906 (53 percent) to 18,778 (47 percent). Chaisson was thereafter unopposed in the senatorial primaries of 2003 and 2007.[citation needed]

Louisiana State senate president[edit]

On January 14, 2008, Chaisson assumed the leadership position in the senate as President of the Louisiana State Senate. Chaisson succeeded the term-limited Senate President Donald E. Hines, a Democrat physician from Bunkie in Avoyelles Parish in south central Louisiana. He was preferred for the Senate presidency by Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican.[2]

In Louisiana, the state House Speaker and Senate President are normally suggested by the governor even if the governor's party or faction lacks a majority in the respective chamber. Chiasson and Republican senator, Michael J. Michot of Lafayette, had sought the Senate presidency. At that time, the senate had a Democratic majority of 23 to 16, but Chaisson indicated that he would seek "bipartisanship" in a bid to work with Governor Jindal and Republican lawmakers. Governor Jindal then deferred to the Democratic majority as Chaisson promised cooperation.[3]

Due to a series of party switches during Chaisson's tenure, the Senate became a Republican majority for the first time since Reconstruction.[4]

During Chaisson's tenure as Senate President, his leadership counterpart in the Louisiana House was Republican Speaker Jim Tucker of the New Orleans' suburb of Terrytown, Louisiana. Governor Jindal preferred that Tucker would become House Speaker even though at the time the house had a slight Democratic majority. Gubernatorial preference plays a major role in deciding leadership positions in the Louisiana legislature, so Tucker was selected despite a Republican minority in the House. During Tucker's tenure as speaker, the House also became a Republican majority similar to the Senate.

Will Sentell of the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate Capitol News Bureau wrote in 2007 that Chaisson's career is "one of beating long odds."[5] Chaisson has the support of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. However, he is not a firm ally of social conservatives in the legislature. In 2009, he was involved in a conflict between the Louisiana Senate leadership and the House on budget priorities, see cuts to higher education.[citation needed]

Ineligible to run for the state Senate due to term-limits, in the primary held on October 22, 2011, Chaisson was succeeded by Gary Smith, Jr., who also followed him in the House twelve years earlier. Smith polled 16,501 votes (59.5 percent) to defeat the Republican Garrett C. Monti, who trailed with 11,215 votes (40.5 percent).[6] With Chaisson ineligible to run for office, on October 25, 2011, Governor Jindal tapped John Alario of Westwego in Jefferson Parish, whom the Republican Party had vigorously opposed in the 2007 senatorial campaign, as his choice to succeed Chaisson as State Senate President, effective January 2012. Alario became only the second person in Louisiana and United States history to have been the presiding officer of both the state House and the state Senate since the death in 2005 of Senator John Hainkel of New Orleans.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Chaisson graduated from Destrehan High School and received his undergraduate degree from the University of New Orleans in 1980. In 1983, he procured his Juris Doctor degree from Louisiana State University Law Center in Baton Rouge.

Chaisson is Roman Catholic and a resident of Destrehan. He is a member of the men's Knights of Columbus order and active in the Lions Club. He and his wife, the former Sandra Stage (born 1951), have a daughter, Martine. Chaisson lists his hobbies as real estate development and deep-sea fishing.[8]

Chaisson is listed among the state and local officials who endorsed the reelection in 2014 of Democrat U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.[9]


  1. ^ Sentell, Will (December 3, 2007). "Chaisson’s political career one of beating long odds". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. p. Page 1A. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  2. ^ Feig, Bill (November 13, 2007). "Joel Chaisson". The Advocate. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  3. ^ Sabludowsky, Stephen. "Louisiana Jindal, The Louisiana Political Pragmatist". Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  4. ^ Sentell, Will (December 3, 2007). "Chaisson’s political career one of beating long odds". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. p. Page 1A. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  5. ^ Sentell, Will (December 3, 2007). "Chaisson’s political career one of beating long odds". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. p. 1A. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  6. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, October 22, 2011". Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Ed Anderson, "Gov. Bobby Jindal endorses Sen. John Alario as his choice for Senate president", October 25, 2011". Retrieved October 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Senator Joel T. Chaisson - District 19". Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  9. ^ "Landrieu’s GOP Endorsements Pale In Comparison To 2008 Election". Retrieved September 12, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Louisiana Senate
Preceded by
Ron Landry
Louisiana State Senator from District 19

Joel Thomas Chaisson, II
2000 – 2012

Succeeded by
Gary Smith, Jr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Donald E. Hines
President of the Louisiana State Senate

Joel Thomas Chaisson, II
2008 – 2012

Succeeded by
John Alario
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ralph R. Miller
Louisiana State Representative from District 56

Joel Thomas Chaisson, II
1992 – 2000

Succeeded by
Gary Smith, Jr.