A state appellate court has ruled the interim mayor of Eunice can be a candidate in a special March 5 election to fill the term of Mayor Claud “Rusty” Moody, who died in early November.
The mayoral candidacy of Scott Fontenot, a former District 4 alderman in Eunice, was challenged by the Louisiana Board of Ethics on grounds that Fontenot did not resign his alderman seat before he was appointed interim mayor earlier this year.
“I’m ecstatic. I’m excited,” Fontenot, 33, said. “I’m just ready to start campaigning. I’ve been shooting to get to this point my entire life.”
The Board of Alderman appointed Fontenot to the position of interim mayor in October after Moody was diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic cancer.
Moody, a retired St. Landry Parish schools official whose first term as Eunice mayor was in 2010, died in early November.
He ran unopposed in 2014 and has three years remaining on his current term.
The Ethics Board argued that Fontenot should have resigned from his District 4 seat on the Eunice Board of Aldermen before he was appointed interim mayor in October.
The matter was heard in a 27th District Court trial in Opelousas on Dec. 14. The trial judge rejected the Ethics Board’s complaint against Fontenot and found that the board’s argument was not based on a correct reading of Louisiana election law.
The Ethics Board then asked for a review by the 3rd Circuit, which issued its ruling Monday.
“We find that the (Ethics Board’s) interpretation of this statute leads to absurd consequences and violates the obvious intent of the statute,” 3rd Circuit Justice Phyllis Keaty wrote.
Four candidates including Fontenot qualified for the special March 5 mayoral election. Fontenot said one of his opponents contacted the Ethics Board and complained. Fontenot did not identify that candidate.
“You just don’t know,” Fontenot said. “I knew all along we had done everything all right.”