My first encounter with Dr. Daniel Satterlee was acrimonious. Nearly six years ago I covered a meeting of Ascension’s Planning Commission where the District 4 Councilman led a large contingent, some constituents and some not, opposed to a tennis club planned with access through a Prairieville neighborhood. To a cynic like me Satterlee’s passionate opposition was off-putting and I penned an unflattering piece filled with that cynicism.
Councilman Satterlee, being Councilman Satterlee, called to express his disdain for me, the pubication, and a few other things better left unmentioned. I responded in kind. It was an inauspicious beginning.
“All I ask is fairness and objectivity,” I remember resenting those words from Satterlee, implying that I had been unfair and less than objective.
And so it went; for another year or so. Settling into the job, though, I listened to Councilman Daniel Satterlee’s voice on the Parish Council. Usually in the minority, Satterlee never failed to argue his case, oftentimes to the obvious discomfiture of certain colleagues, some of whom treated Councilman Satterlee rather shabbily.
“Attack the message, not the messenger,” he fended off one personal assault after another.
But Councilman Satterlee continued on. His consistency of character, adherence to principles, and the rules drawing one back-handed insult after another from the Council Chairman. Satterlee’s willingness, even eagerness, to take on the majority and parish administration had its appeal for anyone who gravitates to the underdog.
My relationship with him improved from acrimonious to standoffish.
That changed when former Council Chairman Chris Loar arranged to have a letter of complaint filed with the Attorney General by President Tommy Martinez. It alleged that Satterlee had violated Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law by polling a quorum of his colleagues on an issue before the Council.
Satterlee had not, and the AG recognized that he had not. I took a first step and offered to tell Councilman Satterlee’s side of the story, so we agreed to meet at a Prairieville coffee house. When we left, nearly five hours later, I was calling him “Doc” and we had formed a mutual respect. And I began to observe him more closely.
Doc Satterlee is the moral compass of Ascension’s Parish Council. He abides by Robert’s Rules of Order, and the Council’s own rules…and Doc Satterlee took the time and effort to learn and understand those rules.
He does not deviate from his principles:
He masters the issues that come before the Council without fail. His 30-year tenure as research scientist comes in handy here.
Transparency in government is in vogue for several candidates seeking to unseat incumbent council members on October 12. Doc Satterlee, without a declared opponent yet, has embodied transparency since taking his Council seat in 2012. That is not the case with most of his colleagues.
Doc Satterlee has always urged managed population growth so that Ascension’s infrastructure might catch up, or at least keep pace, as more and more subdivisions are set for development. His stance is in vogue with most candidates now that hordes of citizens show up to fight these subdivisions before the Planning Commission. He has led the charge (and the Council) on public/private sewer, impact fees, and other important issues.
In 2016 Satterlee was appointed to chair the Council’s Strategic Planning committee where numerous controversial issues were taken head on (see link above). Had his colleagues supported the committee’s efforts even more would have gotten done.
Doc Satterlee does not hold his tongue, even when his colleagues plead with him to do so.
“The citizens have a right to know,” I’ve heard Doc say on numerous occasions.
Doc Satterlee listens to his constituents and tries to represent their will when it comes time to vote. He utilizes social media to engage the electorate which drives his colleagues batty. Good for Doc.
Observing Doc Satterlee for six years has made me a better citizen. I’ve come to admire the man, and appreciate the Councilman. There are issues upon which we disagree but I appreciate that he explains his reasoning (in too much detail sometimes).
Ascension Parish cannot afford to lose Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee.
Wade Petite, Editor