Styling itself as “Your Conservative Ticket” for the July 11 elections for the Ascension’s Republican Parish Executive Committee (ARPEC), one slate of candidates is focusing on maintaining the parish presidency after a 2017-18 attempt to abolish the office in favor of Parish Manager governance. An opposing slate of candidates includes individuals who supported amending the Home Rule Charter to create the Parish Manager position.
ARPEC consists of 16 seats, five at-large and 11 corresponding to the districts comprising the Parish Council. Four of the latter are contested. Here’s what the candidates on “Your Conservative Ticket” have to say:
Brad Bourque: A parish manager is an appointed position that does not answer to the people, but to the Council. The parish president is an elected position and is directly accountable to the people. The people need more representation, not less.
Kathryn Goppelt: There is no veto power with the Council. Who would rein in an out-of-control government? Imagine where we would be right now facing a potential sewer contract for 30 years with a private company and no parish president looking out for the interests of the people.
Greg Neff: Our founding fathers in their brilliance formulated a Constitution based upon separation of powers. The office of parish president is our executive branch and the Council our legislative branch. Both branches are needed to provide accountability and a proper check-and-balance to the parish government.
Al Robert: It is our right to choose the parish president to do the work for the people. When this person is elected, we have the power to fire him every four years if the job is not responsibly done. A parish manager would take this right away.
Jackie Sandefer: My main objection to a parish manager is that it will be taking away my constitutional right to vote for the parish president under the current Home Rule Charter.
Christina Guidry: The Parish Council is elected to represent their individual districts. Council members may vote to fulfill the agenda of their district. The Parish President looks out for the entire population rather than a specific district. A parish manager appointed by the Council could possibly be swayed by the agenda of the council.
George Valentine: Separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of our local Home Rule Charter provides checks and balances that would not be present with a Council-appointed parish manager. Separate branches of government provide the best opportunity for debate and consensus building. An elected parish president gives a community political leadership that is accountable to the people.
Cheryl Fontenot: I want to choose who runs my parish. I do not want anyone taking my vote from me!
Pam Alonso: There are people among us that want to take away our right to vote for a parish president. Asking us to change the Charter so that I no longer have a right to vote for parish president gives total control to a majority of the Council. An appointed parish manager would answer only to the Council, NOT TO THE PEOPLE. A parish manager would not fight for the people against the will of the Council and jeopardize his job. I will fight to the end for my/our right to make that choice at the polls.