Charles Preston, M.D. is the new coroner-elect in St. Tammany Parish after beating out challenger Leanne Truehart, M.D. in Saturday's election, with 58 percent of the vote.
Preston says his win closes a painful chapter for taxpayers and opens the door to a bright, and transparent, future.
Having run a truly grassroots campaign, Preston is now savoring the labors of his hard work.
"I think it's really two messages, one is that people are read for a change and the other is they believe I am that change," said Preston.
Preston will serve the remainder of Peter Galvan's term. Galvan is serving two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to using public money for personal use. A series of Lee Zurik investigations brought the questionable spending to light and detailed how Galvan illegally cashed out sick and vacation time.
Both Charles Preston and Rick Franzo, President of the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany agree, now is the time to close the door on the Peter Galvan story.
"It's sad what happened but people maybe now have an opportunity to make it right," said Franzo.
Preston adds, "I think its time to move forward and to start to talk about the new St. Tammany Parish Coroner's Office."
Preston says one of his top priorities once he's sworn in, will be to take a detailed look at all of the policies in place, including how sick and vacation time is counted.
"Things that need to be improved, we'll work on improving and things that are done right, I intend to leave in place," said Preston.
With the new position, comes additional scrutiny. "I welcome oversight. It's that old story, how do you pass a lie detector test, well, just tell the truth," said Preston.
Having just retired from his medical practice last year, Preston says he'll be focusing 100 percent of his attention on his new job. He's a political newcomer who never thought he'd one day end up running for office but after watching the Galvan story unfold, he says he felt an obligation to step up to the plate.
Preston explains, "There is this element of paying it forward and I've been so richly blessed in so many areas of my life and this is truly an opportunity for public service."
While a date hasn't yet been set for Preston's swearing in, he says he expects it'll take place soon. And he's already planning on meeting with the interim coroner Monday, to start laying the ground work for his takeover.
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Saturday, July 26 2014 2:09 PM EDT2014-07-26 18:09:07 GMT
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