Members of the new East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council voted unanimously Wednesday for Chandler Loupe to serve as mayor pro tem in their first official action after being sworn in for their new term in office.
Loupe said he was surprised and flattered by the unanimous vote to make him mayor pro tem. In that position, Loupe will serve as the council’s chairman and oversee council meetings.
The mayor pro tem also can step in as mayor-president if Kip Holden is unable to serve.
“I’m blessed,” he said. “And I think the council wanted to send a message that we’re all going to work together.”
Loupe said he hopes to “bring more order to the meetings” which have been known to often last four hours and have not always followed Robert’s Rules of Order.
He said people attending to speak at a public hearing will be asked to sign cards before addressing the council.
“They do it at the legislative subcommittees so you know who is speaking ahead of time,” Loupe said. “Now it’s like if someone speaks, then sometimes someone will come up to respond to that, and it goes on all night. It’s not how an open forum is supposed to go.”
He said other members of the council requested implementing the use of the sign-in cards for speakers.
Loupe, a lawyer, said he wouldn’t be able to devote as much time to the office as former pro tem Mike Walker, but said he expected to come to his downtown City Hall office every day.
Walker was term limited and could not run for a seat on the council again. He waged an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Holden, who won a third term as mayor-president in the Nov. 6 primary election against Walker and two challengers.
Loupe said his plans for the immediate future include helping new council members get acclimated and taking a closer look at the city-parish budget.
Loupe had sought in 2009, his first year as a councilman, to replace Mary Roper as parish attorney.
However, he said in an interview Wednesday that he would not revive that issue now that he is pro tem. The Parish Attorney’s Office is one of the agencies that falls under the council’s control.
Loupe also said he’d let the new council decide whether to keep the semi-monthly committee meetings in place or eliminate them — a discussion that has come up at different times among council members.
“Personally, I think we need to keep them,” Loupe said about the committee meetings.
The new council has eight returning council members, all in their second term: Loupe, Trae Welch, Scott Wilson, Ronnie Edwards, Donna Collins-Lewis, C. Denise Marcelle, Joel Boé and Tara Wicker.
Joining the council for their first terms in office are Chauna Banks-Daniel, Buddy Amoroso, Ryan Heck and John Delgado.
The five women on the council are Democrats, and the seven males on the council are Republicans. The last council also had five Democrats and seven Republicans.
New council members said they are ready to get to work.
“I’m most looking forward to helping our city grow and prosper,” Delgado said, “working together with the other members to put aside past differences and focus on the good of all of Baton Rouge.”
Amoroso said he’s looking forward to watching over the many road projects under construction in District 8, and hopes to put more emphasis on council appointments to various parish boards and commissions.
In the past month, several returning council members said they were interested in holding the pro tem seat including Boé, Wicker and Collins-Lewis. Welch and Marcelle also said they were interested in being pro tem, but that they had pledged support to Loupe early on.
Welch said he thought Loupe was successful at securing the seat because he expressed his desire and asked for commitments from council members several months ago.
“He’s going to do a great job,” Welch added.
Boé said he hopes Loupe will bring the council and the administration together and keep council meetings on task.
Boé said that while he was interested in the position, he was pleased the council could unite to choose their next leader.
“I’m happy to see it was a unanimous vote,” he said. “I think we can go into it with a fresh clean slate.”