After striking out with her initial choice, outgoing Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle has selected a Baton Rouge educator and the former leader of the local NAACP chapter as her year long replacement on the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council.
Marcelle emailed the Metro Council on Friday asking that it appoint Lamont Cole as her council replacement after she leaves Jan. 11 to be sworn into her new seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives.
Cole currently works as the chief academic officer for the Community School for Apprenticeship Learning School District. But he previously held other high-profile education roles, including principal of Park Forest Middle, principal of Capitol Middle School, assistant principal of Westdale Middle School and chief academic officer for ADVANCE Baton Rouge.
Cole was the president of the NAACP’s Baton Rouge branch from 2006 to 2011.
Marcelle’s second Metro Council term expires at the end of December 2016. Because she leaves office with less than a full year before her term expires, the Baton Rouge Plan of Government states the remainder of her term will be filled by an interim selected by a vote of the council, rather than district voters.
Traditionally, the council has deferred to the wishes of the outgoing council member.
But last month, Marcelle announced she wanted Isaiah Marshall, the former chairman of the Capital Area Transit System, to succeed her. But some council members bristled about Marshall’s rocky history with the board and his more than $13,000 in unpaid fines to the Ethics Administration, stemming from accumulating late fees for turning in campaign finance reports.
Marshall led the CATS board when another board member was revealed to be wiring money from the agency to pay for his personal bills. The Advocate reported that Marshall knew about the theft for more than two months before going to law enforcement and didn’t report it until after the media made it public.
Marshall has insisted that he sat on the information because he was personally investigating whether other people were involved.
After it became unclear whether the council would move forward with her choice, Marcelle went back to the drawing board. She appointed a group of local pastors, business owners and residents to vet her top three choices.
Marcelle said the group overwhelmingly chose Cole, adding that he had the backing of former Congressman Cleo Fields, Council on Aging Executive Director Tasha Clark-Amar, the Rev. Errol Domingue, Capitol Heights Civic Association leader Tyler Hicks and community leader Cleve Dunn.
The Metro Council will vote after Marcelle officially leaves office.
Another councilwoman, Ronnie Edwards, also was elected to the state House of Representatives last month.
She nominated local attorney Erika Green as her replacement.