In August the Parish Council removed Ascension Planning/Zoning Commissioner Dwayne Bailey by a 5-4 vote, leaving a vacancy on the seven-member body. Bailey’s two-year term ending on February 8, 2024, seven applications were submitted by individuals looking to finish that unexpired term. Among them are familiar faces including Julio Dumas who has enjoyed two separate stints on the commission.
Dumas was ranked 7th out of 15 applicants when the Council Personnel Committee voted to recommend candidates for six of the seven seats…
in March. One spot out of the money, Dumas’s candidacy was torpedoed by Councilmen Joel Robert and Chase Melancon who both ranked him last.
Ardent support from two council members (Teri Casso and John Cagnolatti both ranked Dumas No. 1)…
But Councilman Alvin “Coach” Thomas went off script…
relegating Julio Dumas to 7th place, on the outside looking in as the Council appointed Personnel’s top six. Casso and Cagnolatti, according to multiple sources, did not take the news well and insisted on a second vote; to no avail as it happened, the law being fairly clear on such questions.
The Personnel Committee is scheduled to interview Dumas and six other applicants for the lone Planning/Zoning seat on September 27. Four of remaining six also unsuccessfully applied in March.
- Former Councilman Oliver Joseph (9th place out of 15)
- Jeff Pettit (11th place)
- Carl Capone (13th place)
- Neil Lemoine (14th place)
Julio Dumas, no doubt, will have his supporters. Ultimately, Personnel’s rankings will depend upon which Parish Council members bother to show up on September 27.
The five-member committee includes Casso, Thomas, Melancon and Robert (those council members who attended the March Personnel meeting) along with Corey Orgeron (who did not). John Cagnolatti, as the Council’s chairman, participated in Personnel’s deliberations Ex Officio.
There will be, we suspect, some sentiment to name an applicant from the west bank since Dwayne Bailey was the first Planning/Zoning Commissioner from Donaldsonville in quite some time. The fact that he could only manage to attend a single meeting should not deter Personnel from recommending another west-banker.
Oliver Joseph, 14 years on the Parish Council and credited as the driving force behind a 17,000 acre West Bank Industrial Overlay Zone, would fit the bill. Two more Donaldsonville residents also applied; Carl Capone whose resume’ touts his membership on the City of Donaldsonville’s Planning Commission (a seat he seems intent on retaining whether or not the parish appointment comes through); and Allen “Tommy” Noel.
Jeff Pettit, the ubiquitous Jeff Pettit, has no chance given his hyper-critical participation in the public discourse, most times at the expense of various council members. Pettit’s resume’ is more impressive than one might think.
The seventh applicant is James Bolner, Jr. Bolner’s application claims a Lake Martin Road address and “litigation experience in Federal Court related to the Army Corps of Engineers and permitting of public works projects.” One of the loudest and most persistent critics of Laurel Ridge Levee plans going back a decade, we expect Bolner to be ranked a spot behind Jeff Pettit (or maybe a spot ahead).
Which brings us back to Julio Dumas whose stated Main Goals For Joining Board:
“To fairly and accurately apply the Parish Code as adopted by the Parish Council and their policies associated with it. When appropriate or required, make reasonable recommendations to the Parish Council as required by law for their independent consideration. I understand the purpose and objective of the Commission and their limitations.”
Having served two separate stints on the commission, Dumas’ experience and understanding cannot be called into question. Neither can his pro-development proclivities. Julio Dumas has never met a preliminary plat he would not approve. (For the record, Dumas did cast a vote against Longleaf Townhomes on June 9, 2021, a preliminary plat that included a Traffic Impact Analysis calling for two additional lanes of travel being added to Hwy 73).