ST. FRANCISVILLE — The Parish Council did not muster the necessary five-vote supermajority Monday to place a motion on a ballot next spring giving voters the opportunity to repeal West Feliciana’s Home Rule Charter.
Councilman Melvin Young’s motion would have let voters decide whether to revert the parish’s form of government to a police jury system. The matter died with four members voting for, two against and one absent.
The parish’s voters approved the Home Rule Charter in fall 2012 and elected Kevin Couhig as parish president in fall 2013. The new government is being implemented in stages, with the final stage to occur when the parish switches from a seven-member council to a “four-and-one” system.
Several members of the audience spoke out against the motion.
“The Home Rule Charter establishes branches and checks and balances,” parish resident Pat Heurtin said. “That’s what we voted in. It separated authority. It gave greater accountability to the people.”
Sam Leblanc, who was a member of the commission that created the charter, asked the council to vote against the motion. “I like what I see — no one person is taking over control.”
Parish resident Amy Betts said, “We’ve had this in place for 11 months. Nothing changes very quickly in government. Give it enough time to make a difference.”
Council members John Kean and Lea Williams reminded the audience that the motion was just to allow the voters to decide the issue.
St. Francisville resident Claire Mott spoke out in favor of a vote. “I’ve read the charter and it’s a cumbersome form of government. With seven of you voting, we can’t even get a supermajority (five votes). Maybe the only way to fix it is to get rid of it.”
Voting in favor of the motion to put the charter up for vote were council members Young, Williams, Kean and Otis Wilson. Voting against were Ricky Lambert and Heather Howle. Council member Mel Percy was absent.