Originally published the week of March 14.
The Home Rule Charter Revision Committee elected a chairman and vice chair at its first meeting on March 14 at the Ascension Parish Courthouse in Gonzales. Former school board member and state legislator Roy Quezaire was elected as chairman, while Ascension Parish Councilwoman Terri Casso was elected vice chair.
Other committee members include A Better Ascension board member Brandon Trosclair, former school board member Harrold Jarreau, Ascension Parish Council Chairman Bill Dawson, and Councilman Aaron Lawler. Former-parish president Tommy Martinez will also serve on the committee.
The committee was established on an 8 to 1 vote by the Ascension Parish Council to review proposed changes to the home rule charter. Several proposals will come before the committee, including a controversial recommendation to eliminate the elected position of parish president. The proposal has been backed by the group A Better Ascension, which has held three public meetings on the idea over the past year. Under their plan, citizens would give up their right to elect a parish president in favor of a set of qualifications for a parish manager, who would be appointed by the parish council.
That proposal has received pushback from residents who say this would eliminate the checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of local government. While ABA has said this would take politics out of the situation, opponents say it would do just the opposite by giving the council full control over parish government.
But the ABA proposal is not the only option on the table for re-writing the system of local government. Another recommendation would alter the structure of the 11-member parish council. One idea would be to consolidate the districts from eleven down to nine and then create two at-large representative positions, where two members would be elected by and represent the parish as a whole.
Other ideas will be reviewed from two previous committees that looked at the home rule charter. The reports from those committees will be entered into the record and considered as well.
The agenda for each meeting will be set by the committee chairman, and additions to the agenda can be recommended by committee members. Members will cover every aspect of the home rule charter likely beginning with the parish president and working down to the parish council and other areas of government. It's possible subcommittees could be established to address each of these areas in depth. The next meeting of the HRC Revision Committee will be held Monday, March 26 at 5 p.m.
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