Incoming state Rep. C. Denise Marcelle said she is no longer planning to resign her council seat early because it’s now clear that she won’t be able to force the city-parish to call a special election.
Instead, she said she’ll resign Jan. 11, the day she is set to be sworn into the state House of Representatives. But Marcelle wouldn’t say Tuesday whether she still planned to recommend former CATS board President Isaiah Marshall to the council as her replacement.
The second-term Baton Rouge councilwoman will have just short of a year of her term left when she leaves for the Legislature. Under the Baton Rouge Plan of Government, because she is leaving with less than one year left, the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council will vote on her replacement. Traditionally, council members have deferred to the choice of the exiting council member, although it’s not clear if that tradition will hold.
Marcelle announced last month that she wanted the council to appoint Marshall to fill out the remainder of her term. But his nomination created issues for some council members because of his checkered past with CATS and debts of more than $13,000 owed in fines from the Ethics Commission.
When Marshall was CATS board president, The Advocate reported that another board member had wired the agency’s public funds to pay his personal bills. The Advocate also reported Marshall had known about the issues for more than two months before reporting it to law enforcement, and it was only reported after the media coverage. Marshall said he waited to report the issue because he was personally investigating to learn if more staff members were involved.
Marcelle said recently that rather than let the Metro Council choose a person to replace her who might not have the district’s best interest at heart, she would step down before December to force a districtwide election to be called to replace her. However, next year there are only two spring elections scheduled. Qualifying for March already has passed, and the April election is reserved for the March runoff, said council administrator Casey Cashio.
Marcelle said Tuesday she would move forward with the regular process and make a recommendation to the council as to whom she would like to replace her. Asked if it would still be Marshall, she said, “I’ll let you know. I still haven’t made up my mind yet.”
Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards, who also is leaving for the state Legislature, recommended Baton Rouge attorney Erika Green to replace her. The council will vote after Jan. 11.