The House of Representatives has two relatively new House members and in a couple months will have three more.
Rep. Joseph “Joe” Marino III, I-Gretna, was elected to fill a vacancy in House District 85 created when former Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Gretna, left to join the state fire marshal’s office. Marino had no opposition when he qualified for a July 22 special election.He took the oath of office to become a House member on July 14.
Rep. Paulette “Polly” Thomas, R-Metairie, was also elected without opposition to represent House District 80. No one challenged her qualifying for an election to replace former Rep. Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie, who resigned the House seat to take a position in Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand’s office. She was sworn in as a House member on August 2.
Marino is an attorney specializing in criminal law and served as a Gretna City Council member from 2013 until his election to the House. He also is a certified instructor for the Kenner, Gretna and Westwego police academies.
He graduated from Louisiana State University with a Journalism degree focused on advertising. He enrolled in the University of South Carolina’s School of Law in 1989 and was elected president of Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity. After graduating with a law degree in 1992, Marino returned to Louisiana to begin his law practice. He is a past president of the Jefferson Bar Association and is a member of the Rotary Club.
Marino has been assigned to the Administration of Criminal Justice and Judiciary committees.
Thomas is a retired professor of education at the University of New Orleans and is a former Jefferson Parish School Board member.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) in speech pathology and audiology in 1969, an M.S. in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University in1974, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M in 1977.
Thomas worked as a speech therapist in Louisiana and Texas, was a special education coordinator and was an educational diagnostician. She taught at Texas A&M University and is recently retired as a Full Professor in the Department of Special Education at UNO. She completed an appointment as Interim Associate Dean of the College of Education at UNO and also served as Assistant Superintendent of Special Education for Louisiana.
She will serve on the House Education Committee.
Thomas ran three unsuccessful campaigns for the Louisiana Senate in 2003, 2007 and a 2008 special election. She led a three-candidate race in the 2008 primary against now-Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, but lost in the run-off election.
Three new House members will be elected later this year. Primary elections are to be held March 25 and run-off elections, if needed, on April 29 to fill three vacant seats: District 8, vacated when Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, was elected to Congress; District 42, vacated when Rep. Jack Montoucet, D-Scott, resigned to become Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; and District 92, vacated when Rep. Tom Wilmott, R-Kenner, was elected to the Kenner City Council. The 2017 Regular Legislative Session will convene at noon on Monday, April 10.
By Mike Hasten
House Communications Office
State Rep. Blake Miguez is literally setting his sights on bringing home the gold.
He has been selected to represent the United States in the 2017 International Practical Shooting Confederation Handgun World Shoot in France this August. It’s the shooting sport’s equivalent of the Olympics.
The 35-year-old Republican from Erath earned the gold medal as the world’s best shot with a handgun in 2011 in Rhodes, Greece, and he’s hoping to again claim the title.
“It is an honor to serve on the United States team representing the country that I love in a sport that I have enjoyed doing from a young age,” Miguez said.
Miguez was 12 years old when he entered his first competitive shooting contest and “I did relatively well,” he said. He has been in numerous competitions since then and quickly climbed in rankings. By 17, he earned the rank of Grand Master, the highest ranking in the sport of competitive shooting. He has been Louisiana’s champion pistol shooter each year since the mid-2000s and was on the reality-TV show “Top Shot.” When he won the world title in 2011, he also held the state, regional and national titles.
Miguez is one of a four-man team selected to represent the nation as the Men’s Standard Division Team. Two of his team members are from Georgia and the third is from Missouri.
Competitive shooting has three basic categories – Open, Standard and Production – which Miguez compares to Formula, NASCAR and street racing.
“I do NASCAR,” he said.
Open allows handguns with “dot” sights and other aids, Standard allows handguns with some modifications but not sight aids and Production is “pretty much out of the box.”
More than 1,500 competitors from about 80 countries are expected at the event in Châteauroux, near Paris.
Since he’s not sure of what the competition will include, he’s practicing shooting in several positions – standing, squatting, kneeling and lying on his stomach – as well as shooting on the run. It helps that he has his own shooting range, located in Jeanerette. When Miguez won in 2011, one of his challenges was shooting from a rocking boat.
A .40-caliber pistol is his weapon of choice. It is composed of parts from STI, an employee-owned gun manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Texas, that were assembled at Akai Custom Guns in Sunrise, Fla. The pistol has traditional iron sights and he uses a 19-round clip for international competition. “It is a traditional handgun,” he said. It has no dot sight and no muzzle brakes (which would reduce recoil), so hand strength is crucial.
During competitions, shooters are required to navigate set courses that require dodging around and ducking under obstacles to shoot targets – many of which are moving. They shoot through holes in walls, through windows and doors and often have to start out in unusual positions, like getting up from lying on their backs or getting out of a vehicle before they can retrieve their weapons. Competitors are judged on accuracy, power, and speed.
Miguez is known for being extremely good at all aspects. At a recent meet, he fired two shots in a quarter second with his semi-automatic pistol. He can draw his weapon and hit a target 10 yards away in less than a second. He carries five magazines on his belt, plus one in his gun during competition. A video of him competing shows fluid, split-second magazine changes while moving among targets. To see segments of Miguez’s 2011 World Shoot competition, click here.
Besides competitive shooting all around the world, he likes to deer, duck and dove hunt and fish both saltwater and fresh water, although he says he doesn’t get to enjoy those hobbies as often as he once did. “I have too many jobs and too many hobbies,” he said, laughing. “I used to do 15 matches a year. Now I do about seven.”
He’s competed in many countries around the world and in every state but Alaska and Hawaii.
At the matches, “Safety is paramount,” he said. “There’s never been a death” at a sanctioned event. “I was taught at a young age how to handle a gun safely. You’ve got to act responsibly.” Any action by a competitor that’s deemed unsafe, such as an accidental discharge, fumbling or dropping a weapon, leads to disqualification.
When he’s not involved in other activities, Miguez is working on his real jobs, being a husband and father, taking care of his legislative duties, and being president and CEO of SeaTran Marine LLC, an offshore supply vessel company. He’s also involved in his family’s business, Miguez Fuel & Lubricants. He’s married to Ashley Jolet-Miguez and they have three children, Izabel, 14, Colin, 12, and Julianna, who turned 2 on New Year’s Day.
The Olympic-style opening ceremony for this year’s world competition is set for Aug. 27. Competition runs from August 28 to September 2 with the final Shoot-Off scheduled Sept. 3, the same day as the awards ceremony.
Miguez says he plans to go to Italy a week before the event starts and find a place where he can concentrate on honing his skills. He said he will purchase ammunition locally for that but when it comes to the competition, he will use ammunition hand-loaded by his father, Steve Miguez. “He enjoys doing that.”
“I’ll go with 900 to 1,000 rounds and probably use 600 to 700 rounds” during the competition, he said. He wants to have enough in case there’s a “re-shoot,” sometimes caused by such things as a malfunctioning moving target, or there’s a “shoot-off,” in which all the top shots compete.