Governing is difficult even when the people trust elected officials. That is not the case in Ascension Parish where the people voted out a majority of the parish council on October 12; and a new parish president was elected over the institutional candidate preferred by the current power structure. If the next council wants to bridge that divide, it must elect new leadership; i.e. a different council chairperson at its first meeting in January.
It is time for Councilwoman Teri Casso to lay down the gavel, and Councilman Aaron Lawler cannot be allowed to pick it up.
As important as anything, the ability to work with (soon to be) President Clint Cointment should be a prerequisite for the job. Casso “stabbed (Cointment) in the back” by halting recent negotiations with Bernhard Capital Partners, omitting the president-elect’s ideas from a controversial sewer agreement.
Speaking of distrust, numerous residents openly questioned whether council members stand to benefit financially from the proposed sewer agreement.
Aaron Lawler would chastise those citizens (and Cointment) toward the end of Friday’s meeting. Slithery as always, Lawler is actively working against Cointment, even after claiming to have garnered his endorsement before last month’s District 7 council runoff election.
That Lawler lied to a constituent has not been newsworthy for years.
It does, though, render him unfit to occupy the chair whether Clint Cointment is in a forgiving mood or not.
The parish president-elect has the wind at his back, receiving multiple rounds of applause during Friday’s council meeting. It was truly heartening, even inspirational to see so many citizens in attendance, five days before Christmas no less.
What could possibly be so urgent that it could not wait for the next council to be sworn in on January 6? The awful optics spurred numerous citizens to question the integrity of the council, creating even worse optics, and the need to repair a widening breach between the people and their elected representatives.
Cointment has that opportunity with a fresh crop of council members ready to hit the ground running and do the people’s business. He promised transparency, asking for the people’s trust during a campaign which saw him best three candidates without having to endure a runoff. It should be the new parish president to head negotiations against Bernhard Capital Partners, in cooperation with council leadership.
It cannot work if that leadership is Teri Casso or Aaron Lawler.
Never has selection of the chair been more important, heightened since the chair appoints committee chairs. Whoever takes over Utilities will have his hands full since the sewer agreement will be front and center.