Shanie Bourg emerged from a list of 17 applicants to be appointed Registrar of Voters on Thursday with a six-member majority of the Parish Council voting for the 50-year old Ascension native over two other finalists. Bourg will take the reins from Robert Poche who recently retired after 37 years in the post. A Commissioner of Elections with Louisiana’s Secretary of State since 2009, an emotional Bourg intends to audit Ascension voting precincts in anticipation of requisite redistricting after 2020 Census figures are revealed.
She had the vocal support of Ascension’s Clerk of Court Bridget Hanna who was first to congratulate Bourg after the Council vote was rendered. Hanna’s office has played a larger role in local elections than other parish clerks of court according to multiple of the Registrar applicants, and her endorsement of Bourg was vigorous and unwavering. Having “worked with Bourg for years,” unequivocal support from Hanna had to be persuasive.
Other parish-wide elected officials are rumored to have expressed a preference for Shanie Bourg as well, though none so overtly as the Clerk of Court.
With Councilman Corey Orgeron absent from Thursday’s proceedings, Bourg still garnered a six-vote majority as two other finalists split the other four votes. The new Registrar got the nod from Councilmen Alvin “Coach” Thomas, Chase Melancon, Dal Waguespack, Michael Mason, Travis Turner and…finally, after several seconds of silent deliberation, Chairwoman Teri Casso. Casso, last to vote, sealed the deal for Bourg in a mild surprise given the chairwoman’s affinity for another finalist.
Murphy Painter had received two votes (from Councilman Dempsey Lambert and Aaron Lawler) and a third from his friend Teri Casso would have forced a runoff vote against Bourg. Casso explained later that it was obvious Shanie Bourg, ultimately had the votes, and there was little reason to prolong the process. Joanne Reed who had received two vote (Councilmen Joel Robert and John Cagnolatti) and at least one of them was not going to vote for Painter.
Reed had tallied the highest score of them all after the initial ranking process winnowed the field down to three. Each Council member scored the applicants during a recess and the top three advanced to a first round of voting. Had no applicant received a majority of the council votes, the process would have been repeated with all three applicants until one of them garnered a six-vote majority per the council’s parliamentarian. Casso’s vote for Shanie Bourg avoided the eventuality.
The Registrar position is a lifetime appointment.