ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Voters in St. Tammany Parish will decide next week which doctor will take over for ousted coroner Peter Galvan. But before Election day, a local watchdog group will try to help voters decide who's the right candidate.
Rick Franzo started the Concerned Citizens of Lacombe in 2010 with the notion it would just be a small, side project, but that quickly changed. "It grew. Within a couple months we had 200 members," Franzo recalled.
Fast forward a few years and the expanded Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany played a big role in the Peter Galvan story. They led a recall effort to get him out of the coroner's office after a series of Lee Zurik investigations found Galvan was misusing public money for personal use.
"I said this can't happen, this isn't right," said Franzo.
With Galvan now behind bars, after being sentenced to two years in federal prison, Franzo says, it's time to move on. "It's kind of an historic thing, this election. It's never really happened before and it's sad what happened but people maybe now have an opportunity to make it right," Franzo commented.
On Monday night, Franzo's group will hold a debate with the two candidates currently in a run-off for Galvan's old job, Leanne Truehart, M.D. and Charles Preston, M.D. Both have previously told FOX 8 they want to correct the past mistakes in the coroner's office.
"You can't be asleep at the wheel and be absent from the coroner's office and I believe in transparency," said Preston.
Truehart said, "One of the things that is most important is to have full transparency, accountability and professionalism."
Franzo says he has full confidence in both candidates, but he wants the public to know, just because a new coroner will be elected, doesn't mean his watchdog group is going anywhere. "We will keep our eye on it because we want to make sure it's right," said Franzo.
And Franzo says, he'll try to make sure gross misspending like the kind that occurred under Galvan's watch, doesn't ever happen again.
The debate hosted by the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany will take place 6:30 Monday night at the John Davis Recreation Center in Lacombe.
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