Ricks, new council take oath of office Monday, pledge to work together to solve Livingston Parish problems _lowres

Advocate photo by Heidi Kinchen -- Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks sheds tears as he talks about the support of his wife, Susan, through Ricks' first term in office. Ricks took the oath of office as parish president for a second term Monday, Jan. 11, 2016.

The nine new members of the Livingston Parish Council took the oath of office Monday in a ceremony full of nods to teamwork aimed at avoiding the animosity of the past between Parish President Layton Ricks and the council members ousted in the fall.

Ricks, who took the oath for his second term as parish president, congratulated the nine men sworn in as council members and pledged to work with them.

“Where have y’all been?” Ricks asked the new councilmen with a smile. “Y’all may not be a pretty bunch, but you’re sure a sight for these sore eyes.”

Ricks said the voters sent a message not only to the six incumbent council members who were booted from office this fall, but to the new councilmen and to him.

“They expect you to work with me,” Ricks said. “And they expect me to work with the nine of you. Together, we can build friendships, relationships that will help us tackle the issues that we know we have coming.”

Former Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin gave the closing remarks for the ceremony, saying voters entrusted the new council members to carry out their duties in good faith, with honesty and integrity.

“It is only fitting that you pledge to them that special interests will not sway you and that each of you will represent all of the people of Livingston Parish,” Durbin said.

The only way forward is through teamwork, Durbin said, noting that residents are “so very tired of divided government because little gets accomplished.”

Assessor Jeff Taylor and Sheriff Jason Ard urged the council members to remain prayerful in their decision making.

“Don’t do what you want to do,” Taylor said. “Do what you’re supposed to do, until what you’re supposed to do becomes what you want to do. Then you will always get to do what you want to do.”

In an emotional moment, Ricks teared up as he thanked Taylor for his tireless friendship and support over the past four years. The tears continued as Ricks thanked his wife, Susan, his children and grandchildren, and his mother.

“I can promise you there’s a man up in heaven looking down with a big smile on his face and grinning from ear to ear with pride,” Ricks said of his father, who died in June 2012, five months after Ricks was sworn in for his first term as parish president. “Mama, I’m so glad you’re here.”

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, and call her at (225) 336-6981.