LIVINGSTON — Seven Livingston Parish Council members, meeting for the last time before the board completely changes hands in January, bid emotional farewells Thursday night.
The council took only 20 minutes to whip through the agenda, approving with little discussion the low bid on a 185-space parking lot addition at the new parish courthouse, an agreement for a sidewalk project along Juban Road and an increased spending cap for the lawyer handling the council’s lawsuit against Parish President Layton Ricks over payment of certain legal fees.
Ricks was absent from the meeting, as were council members Cindy Wale Franz and Jim Norred, who had family commitments Thursday and said their goodbyes Dec. 3.
Councilwoman Sonya Collins, arriving just before the final vote Thursday, said she was glad to be able to vote one last time before leaving office.
Collins has been caring for a sick relative and thought she would not make it to the meeting. She said she will miss serving on the council, but she looks forward to spending more time with her family.
Councilman Marshall Harris, the longest-serving council member, said he attended about 800 meetings in his 20 years of service — time that meant missing his daughters’ volleyball and basketball games and dance recitals, as well as events important to his wife.
“I want to really thank my wife and two daughters,” Harris said, choking back tears. “My daughters were 4 and 9 when I was elected. Now they’re married with college degrees.”
Councilwoman Joan Landry also thanked her husband, saying public service “is a big commitment of your family.”
Councilman Ricky Goff joked that his wife is “extremely happy” he will be home more often and that his to-do list is finally getting shorter.
Landry and Councilmen Delos Blackwell and Chance Parent said they inherited many problems when they took office in 2012, but they believe they are leaving the parish better than they found it.
“We had our ups and downs on this council, with nine different personalities, and the next council will experience the same thing,” Parent said.
Councilman Ronnie Sharp said he enjoyed his 16 years on the council. He described his replacement, incoming Councilman Tab Lobell, as “a good man.”
The nine new council members — all men — will take the oath of office on Jan. 11 at noon in the council chambers.