11 Ascension Parish Council seats are scheduled to be contested on October 14, with some districts having seen major changes to accommodate wildly shifting demographic patterns reflected in the most recent decennial census. Our analysis of those district-by-district shifts, with an assessment of potential changes to the electoral dynamic, focuses on District 6 today. (See above for map going into effect for Election Day, adopted during a Special Meeting of the Council on December 29).
First-time candidate, Chase Melancon, won the seat unopposed in 2019 after building up quite a bit of buzz from the public speakers podium in the months leading up to candidate qualifying. Then incumbent, Randy Clouatre, anticipated the anti-incumbency dynamic that would ultimately unseat six members with a seventh (Dempsey Lambert) barely surviving. Councilman Chase Melancon found himself in the governing authority maelstrom from Inauguration Day, being nominated to the Council chairmanship on January 9, 2020.
Even before his swearing in, the Melancon momentum only mounted as he, then Councilman-Elect, participated in the ongoing negotiations over a proposed Wastewater Treatment agreement with National Water Infrastructure, LLC.
They spent the better part of ten days, with outgoing Councilman Bill Dawson and a few others, trying to improve the 83-page document. Submitting multiple drafts for NWI’s consideration until Chairwoman Teri Casso pulled the plug, the version considered during a contentious Friday night meeting on December 20, 2019 ignored most of the team’s work. But the proposal would be rejected as Melancon and President-Elect Cointment argued for continued negotiations.
Having hit the ground running, the beginning of Melancon’s council tenure was turbulent when his failed bid for the chairmanship blew up. But the ship was quickly righted and he was appointed to chair the Council Utilities Committee in 2021, ultra-important as a sale of all wastewater treatment assets to NWI was being negotiated. Voters would approve that sale on April 24, 2021.
With low turnout, sewer agreement garners widespread support
That was followed in 2022 with Chase Melancon’s elevation to chair East Ascension Drainage Commission, his ascendancy made possible by being on the right side of the failed effort to strip President Cointment’s operational control over drainage. Six members having overplayed a very weak hand, Cointment was the big winner in that regrettable fiasco and those council members supporting him all benefited if only by comparison. The fact that Melancon is, while supportive, no Cointment sycophant made his rise more palatable for a council majority.
It led up to his being voted to the Council’s chair earlier this month. Smart, even-keeled and studious…Chase Melancon’s rise through the ranks is understandable and his reelection to the District 6 seat, even with a fairly substantial change, seems something near a certainty. We have not heard of any potential challenger with six months until qualifying.
Never having actually been on the ballot, it is impossible to say how Chase Melancon would have performed (though we would have considered him a clear favorite against the incumbent and were not surprised when Randy Clouatre opted out). A purely St. Amant seat in 2019…
sparsely populated District 6 had to add people to conform with the one man, one vote principle. And it happened when Precinct 18 was added to the district from District 11. The precinct’s northern border is Germany Road, extending south to Hwy 621; running west-to-east from Hwy 44 to George Rouyea.
Most of the area is considered Gonzales, tacked onto a District encompassing St. Amant, we do not expect the new precinct to change the electoral math. Even considering that the southeast corner of the current map (a healthy chunk of the sparsely populated Precinct 27) was lopped off and moved to District 2, it would take a formidable candidate to mount a serious challenge to Chase Melancon. And that challenger had better get started soon.