A couple of hundred Ascension citizens, “fed up (and refusing) to take it anymore,” packed Gonzales Memorial VFW Post 3693 on Sunday to pursue the recall of six Parish Council members. More would have entered but there was no accessible parking left. Six tables ringed the main room, one each for the groups organized to oust Corey Orgeron, Dempsey Lambert, Aaron Lawler, Teri Casso, Dal Waguespack and John Cagnolatti.
The six comprised the majority on June 28 when East Ascension Drainage District voted to strip Parish President Clint Cointment of authority over drainage.
Plans to file the requisite petitions are being formalized as each group has (or soon will) established Political Action Committees. Volunteers are being recruited to knock doors, make calls, contribute cash…whatever help anyone can offer to the recalls is welcomed. The importance of networking with friends and neighbors to get the word out was stressed.
“The people of Ascension have to come together to save our parish,” declared Brenda Whitney who got the recall fire burning as administrator of the Facebook Page, What’s going on in Ascension Parish. “We’ve got to get a minimum of three out of office.”
How passionate were they? Even the opening invocation included a plea for the Almighty’s help “to turn anger into action; and don’t let this travesty pass by.”
And it seems there is no coming back. Five of the recall targets posted a tepid statement on Friday, pledging “to work with the Parish President towards a compromise,” which did nothing but fuel the outrage on Sunday.
“Why didn’t they extend that offer at the (June 28 EA Drainage) meeting when we all asked them to?” wondered Sonny Edwards, the chairman of Aaron Lawler’s recall. “They are making Ascension Parish a laughingstock.”
“It was very deceptive in nature. The Vice Chairman (Councilman Chase Melancon) went on record saying he had no idea it was happening,” explained Kathy Delatte, heading up John Cagnolatti’s recall. “Despite the fact that almost every person in that room supported Mr. Cointment, they still did it. (And Cagnolatti) didn’t say a single word.”
Had her District 10 representative explained his vote, Delatte “probably wouldn’t be here today. We have no voice. Mr. Cagnolatti didn’t care what we had to say or what we wanted.”
Phillip Bellan is the chair of the Recall Dempsey Lambert effort. His frustration focused on the District 5 councilman’s lengthy tenure, 17.5 years on the council and seven as EA Drainage’s chairman, and lack of results. “If drainage projects aren’t getting done, drainage is getting worse,” Bellan asserted.
Catrina Miller Bonomolo represented the group targeting District 9’s Dal Waguespack. She noted her council representative’s apparent conflicting emotions, Waguespack fought back tears when casting his vote on June 28, but had little sympathy for him. He defied the clearly express will of his constituents no matter how badly he felt about it.
Christopher Hebert was scheduled to speak about the Recall of Teri Casso but took ill and had to leave Sunday’s event.