Hammond’s guide to midterm elections


Austin O'Brien

Citizens of Hammond have several elections to vote for today, including the U.S. Senate and the Hammond Mayoral race.

The 2022 U.S. midterm elections have arrived and Hammond residents will be tasked with choosing their next representative for mayor, among other crucial offices. 

On the ballot this year for mayor are four candidates: a pair of Republicans, Pete Panepinto and Darryl Smith, as well as two Democrats, Tracy Washington Wells and Johnny Pecoraro. 

First, Pete Panepinto is the two-term incumbent running for re-election. He has resided in the city for 32 years. During his time as mayor, he’s been dubbed “Mayor Pete” or “The Working Mayor.”

Panepinto is an alum of Southeastern, according to his campaign website, having earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing and business. His campaign platform is focused on support for education, business and infrastructure. 

Next, Darryl Smith is a local property developer and has resided in Hammond for 40 years. He mainly touts his experience in banking, finance and construction. 

His campaign platform consists of “three critical issues”: workforce, crime and infrastructure and “competent leadership.”  

Tracy Washington Wells is a federal officer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has worked with the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations. Her experience in public service also includes her time as a caseworker for Louisiana’s State Office of Eligibility Examiners and the State Department of Health. 

Her campaign platform pushes for economic development, partnerships in the community with local churches and schools, safer communities and “crime reduction through community policing.”. 

Finally, John Pecoraro is a florist and owner of the local business Hammond Florist. According to his campaign website, before he moved back to Hammond, he provided “furnishings for the United States White House and the United States Capitol.” 

Pecoraro’s main goal is to “take Hammond to the next level” through efforts such as the “Historical Beautification Project” and revamping the local airport. He also plans on stimulating economic growth by directing business deals between corporations and Southeastern. 

In other races, Hammond residents will also be voting for their next representative for Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as their next representative for Louisiana’s junior Senator in the U.S. Senate. 

Steve Scalise is the eight-term incumbent for Louisiana’s 1st house seat and the second-ranked Republican in the House of Representatives. In this race, he’ll be seeking a ninth term against Katie Darling, a Democrat and businesswoman, and Howard Kearney, a Libertarian and computer programmer.  

John Kennedy, a Republican, is the one-term incumbent for junior Senator. He’ll be seeking a second term against a multitude of opponents, including Democrats Gary Chambers, Jr., a local businessman and activist, Syrita Steib, an activist and scientist, and Luke Mixon, a former fighter pilot, as well as Republican Devin Lance Graham, a businessman. 

The midterm election will have a massive impact on political representation for Hammond residents for the foreseeable future. The next time they’ll vote for their U.S. House representative will be in 2024, and the next time they’ll vote for mayor and the U.S. Senate will be in 2026. 

It’s important that Americans take the time this election cycle to exercise their right to vote. To find your local polling place, head to sos.la.gov or download the GeauxVote app. 

For more information on candidates, voters can head to Ballotpedia.