Gonzales’ Cagnolatti elected to AP Council chair (no word on committee assignments)

Chairman John Cagnolatti

Six years into his tenure, District 10 Councilman John Cagnolatti from Gonzales was elected by his colleagues to chair Ascension’s Parish Council on Thursday.  Cagnolatti takes the gavel from Councilwoman Teri Casso who was elected Vice Chair (in keeping with custom, neither position garnered a second nominee as the decisions were made prior to the videoconference proceeding).  Among the least verbose of the governing authority’s membership, never engaging in the rough-and-tumble like some others, Cagnolatti called for civility from his colleagues as disagreement is certain to arise.


  • Cagnolatti is the ninth different council chair since Ascension Parish voters opted for Home Rule 28 years ago.
  • His ascension to the chair marks the first time for a member whose district includes the City of Gonzales.
  • His predecessor, Casso, served three years in the chair after seven over the Finance Committee (Cagnolatti chaired Finance in 2021).
  • Donaldsonville’s Thomas “Moose” Pearce was elected to the chair over the council’s first ten years in existence (until Kent Schexnaydre won the District 2 seat which had been redrawn to include the east bank after the 2000 Census).
  • Two chairmen (St. Amant’s Jerry Savoy and Prairieville’s Chris Loar) gave up the chair the year before losing a bid for the parish presidency, both failing to make the runoff (in 2007 and 2015, respectively).
  • One member, District 4’s Pat Bell, spent his entire one-term Council tenure (2008-11) as the chairman.
  • Only one chairman (District 8’s George Valentine) served a single year (2007) in the chair.
  • Two other members occupied the chair, both for two years; St. Amant’s Randy Clouatre (end of 2014-16) and Donaldsonville’s (formerly of Pelican Point) Bill Dawson (2017-18).

Cagnolatti’s predecessor was unable (or maybe she was in on the shenanigans) to control certain of the membership, appointing the worst offenders to leadership roles of standing committees.  Two Prairieville councilman, in particular, routinely insulted (and worse) parish residents and, in one regrettable instance, a longtime youth basketball volunteer.  The statutory power to make committee assignments is the chair’s most important function since the majority of legislation is adopted pursuant to committee recommendation.

Should Councilman Aaron Lawler and/or Corey Orgeron find themselves heading up any of the six standing committees it is a sure sign of the status quo being maintained.  Little to no information has leaked out as to Chairman Cagnolatti’s intentions.

2021 Committee assignments

Finance: Chair-John Cagnolatti, Vice Chair-Dal Waguespack (membership includes the entire council)

Personnel: Chair-Corey Orgeron, Vice Chair-John Cagnolatti, Michael Mason, Chase Melancon, Alvin Thomas

Recreation: Chair-Alvin Thomas, Vice Chair-Travis Turner, Dal Waguespack, Aaron Lawler, Joel Robert

Strategic Planning: Chair-Joel Robert, Vice Chair-Michael Mason, Corey Orgeron, Dempsey Lambert, Alvin Thomas

Transportation: Chair-Aaron Lawler, Vice Chair-Michael Mason, Dal Waguespack, Dempsey Lambert, John Cagnolatti

Utilities: Chair-Chase Melancon, Vice Chair-Alvin Thomas, Dal Waguespack, Aaron Lawler, Corey Orgeron

East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1, comprised of ten east bank council members sitting Ex Officio, will elect its officers at the first meeting of 2022.  Regularly scheduled for the second Monday of each month, no meeting agenda has been published as yet.

Chase Melancon is best choice to chair EA Drainage on January 10

Current chairman, Dempsey Lambert has occupied the position since September 2, 2014.  Vice Chair at present, Chase Melancon is lobbying his colleagues for the top spot.