Political hopefuls who try to use their East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council seat as a launch pad for higher local or state office far more often than not find those ambitions thwarted in what’s become known as the “council curse.”
To say the record for sitting council members running for higher office isn’t good is an understatement. Since 1999, at least 16 sitting council members have lost elections seeking higher office. The last to run successfully was Mike Futrell in 1999.
After Councilman Buddy Amoroso narrowly lost his state legislative race to former Councilman Darrell Ourso, he jokingly told a reporter, “The curse is still alive.” Even Ourso fell victim when he was a sitting councilman in 2002 seeking the job of parish assessor.
Here’s a list of council members who failed at the ballot box while still holding their Metro Council seat:
Buddy Amoroso, lost state representative race in 2015
Trae Welch, lost 19th Judicial District Court judge race in 2014
Scott Wilson, lost state representative seat in 2013
Mike Walker, lost mayor-president race in 2012
C. Denise Marcelle, lost state representative race in 2011
Donna Collins-Lewis, lost state representative race in 2011
Wayne Carter, lost mayor-president race in 2008
Byron Sharper, lost state representative race in 2007
Lorri Burgess, lost state representative race in 2007
Pat Culbertson, lost state representative race in 2007
Charles Kelly, lost state representative race in 2005
Martha Jane Tassin, lost state representative race in 2005
Ulysses “Bones” Addison, lost state representative race in 2002
Darrell Ourso, lost parish assessor race in 2002
David Boneno, lost state representative race in 2001
Joe Greco, lost state Senate race in 1999.
Livingston development chief stepping down
The head of an organization that has been behind many recent Livingston Parish developments is stepping down from the post he’s held for the past four years.
During the Livingston Economic Development Council’s spring meeting on Thursday, President and CEO Randy Rogers said he would be retiring at the end of May.
The announcement came moments before Northshore Technical Community College Chancellor William Wainwright announced a tentative plan to open a campus in Walker in 2017. Rogers and the LEDC were credited as partners who helped the site come to fruition.
During Rogers’ tenure, the parish also lured a number of companies, including Superior Steel, Quality Iron of Louisiana, Epic Piping and Martin Brower, the LEDC wrote in a statement that accompanies Rogers’ announcement.
He said he plans to continue to work with the organization on special projects but in a part-time role.
“Randy, we will truly, truly miss you once you’re gone permanently. We’re not saying goodbye just yet,” said Regina Scott, LEDC Board of Directors chairwoman.
The organization has interviewed candidates to replace Rogers but has not picked a successor. Scott said they hoped to hire a new president before Rogers retires May 31.
Library Board appointee supporter of tax bump
One of the new members the Metro Council just appointed to serve on the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control lobbied the Library Board last month to seek a property tax increase — an increase council members have said was ill-advised.
Many council members have slammed the Library Board for requesting an election for an 11.1-mill property tax — the same amount voters approved in the last two election cycles. The tax has been rolled back to 10.78 mills as property values have increased, and the new tax would mean a higher bill for property owners.
Two board members who supported seeking the higher tax are finishing their terms, and the Metro Council replaced them on Wednesday. But instead of appointing two openly conservative, anti-tax candidates, the council appointed Kathy Wascom, who previously worked for the library system, and Donald Luther Jr., a local businessman who owns a driving school.
Wascom’s appointment, in particular, seems to conflict with the position Metro Councilman John Delgado took just a day before the meeting.
“I’m not voting to reappoint anyone that supported increasing our taxes,” Delgado vowed then.
Wascom helped persuade the Library Board last month to not lower its proposed tax in the fall election. And Delgado is one of the seven council members who voted for Wascom to sit on the Library Board.
“Now that the library system is on solid financial footing, it is not the time to decrease its income,” Wascom told the Library Board in March. “… You don’t want to diminish the library. We have worked so hard to create a wonderful, wonderful library.”
Delgado said Thursday he knew Wascom has been a longtime advocate for the library and was qualified for the Library Board position.
He said Wascom’s views on the library’s budget may change now that she is an appointed official on the board.
Advocate reporters Rebekah Allen, Steve Hardy and Andrea Gallo contributed to this report.