John A. Alario, Jr. is an American businessman from Westwego in Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans suburbs, who is the dean of the Louisiana State Legislature, having served consecutively in the law-making body since 1972. He was the District 83 member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1972 to 2008. During this period, he served two four-year stints as Speaker of the House—from 1984 to 1988 and 1992 to 1996, the third and fourth terms of his close ally, former Governor Edwin Washington Edwards. Term-limited in the nonpartisan blanket primary on October 20, 2007, Alario, then a Democrat, was instead elected to his first term in District 8 in the Louisiana State Senate.
Alario graduated in 1961 from West Jefferson High School in Harvey in Jefferson Parish. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965 from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. Alario attended the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Massachusetts. He was a schoolteacher from 1965 to 1966 and an accountant from 1966 to 1972, at which time he launched an income tax service in Westwego. He is a member of the professional organization, the National Society of Public Accountants. Alario was the chairman of the Louisiana Exposition Authority, which arranged the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. In 1973, freshman Representative Alario was elected as a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention, whose members included a future governor, Buddy Roemer, and a subsequent Louisiana secretary of state and insurance commissioner, James H. "Jim" Brown. From 1968 to 1972, Alario served on the Jefferson Parish Democratic Executive Committee. He was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida.
As the House Speaker, Alario was described by a colleague, Ron Gomez of Lafayette, as "a master of adding just the right degree of levity to defuse almost any potentially explosive situation."
As a House member, Alario was chairman at different times of the Appropriations and Ways and Means committees. He last faced opposition for his House seat in the 1995 primary, when he secured 70.5 percent of the ballots over a fellow Democrat and two Republican candidates. He ran without opposition in the House races of 1987, 1991, 1999, and 2003.
On October 25, 2011, Governor Bobby Jindal tapped Alario, whom the Republican Party had virgorouly opposed in the 2007 senatorial campaign, as his choice for the presidency of the State Senate, effective January 2012.
In 1998, Alario received the "Golden Ambassador" award from his alma mater, Southeastern Louisiana University. He was nominated for the honor by then State Representative Henry "Tank" Powell, a Ponchatoula Republican who is also an alumnus of the institution. At the time, Powell said that the then Democrat Alario "cares about people more than he does about politics. We represent different parties, yet John is willing to work together if it benefits Louisiana. I respect him and so does every member of the legislature. He is a statesman."
Alario is a past winner of the "Hale Boggs Outstanding and Dedicated Service to Community Award", named for the late Democratic House Majority Whip from New Orleans, Hale Boggs. Alario received the Chamber of Commerce "Business Champion Award". He was named a "Special Olympics Champion" in 2008. He has been honored by the Association for Retarded Citizens, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, and the Louisiana State Troopers Association. He has also been honored by the Jefferson Parish Marine Fisheries Association for his support of the Gulf of Mexico fishing industry. Even the conservative interest group, the Louisiana Family Forum, gave him its 2009 "Family Advocate Award". Alario voted with the Family Forum 78 percent of the time in the 2009 legislative session.
Alario was inducted in 2003 into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.
The John A. Alario, Sr., Event Center in Westwego is named in honor of Alario's father because Louisiana does not permit public facilities to be named for living people. Similarly, the office complex Alario Hall at the Capitol is named for Alario, Sr. The structure is part of the Bayou Segnette Sports Complex, located near Bayou Segnette State Park. The New Orleans Hornets practice there.
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