DONALDSONVILLE — State legislators and a onetime challenger will be included in the eight-member team selected to help Ascension Parish President-elect Kenny Matassa transition into office.
State Reps. Johnny Berthelot and Ed Price will be on the team, along with primary opponent and outgoing Ascension Parish Councilman Chris Loar.
Matassa, who beat businessman Clint Cointment in a Nov. 21 runoff by a razor-thin margin to replace four-term Parish President Tommy Martinez, announced the team before the Parish Council on Thursday night.
Matassa, who is a longtime parish government administrator, also announced that when he takes office Jan. 4, he wants to retain Chief Administrative Officer Ken Dawson.
Dawson has been shepherding several of the parish’s larger projects, including a regional sewage treatment system. He is also on Matassa’s transition team.
Matassa said he appreciated the council’s fine job in the past and hoped to build on those successes for the future. “I look forward to working with you,” he said in brief remarks to the council at the Parish Courthouse. He left shortly afterward.
Dawson said later that Matassa had mentioned the possibility of keeping him and believed the president-elect selected him to maintain progress on several ongoing projects.
“I thank him for his confidence in me to do so, and I’m looking forward in trying to get it done,” he said in an interview.
Under the parish home rule charter, the parish president’s choice for chief administrative officer must be ratified by at least a majority of the Parish Council.
Dawson has at least one vote.
“I’m extremely pleased you’re still with us,” Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee told Dawson personally after the meeting.
Satterlee, who is finishing his first term in office and was re-elected last month, has become heavily involved in the parish’s bid for a regional sewer system. Sewage treatment remains a pressing concern for many of his constituents, he has said.
In the five-man primary race for parish president this fall, Loar, a two-term councilman, ran third. He is losing his seat on the council.
Loar said Matassa called him while he and his family were on an extended vacation in Costa Rica following months of campaigning.
Loar said he agreed to be on Matassa’s transition team and said he felt like he could help with ideas to improve the parish administration. Loar said he has friends on the council and would want similar input if one of them were stepping away from the body.
“I would want somebody to still offer those ideas,” Loar said.
He said the transition team has not met yet and is not sure what his role will be.
Others on Matassa’s team are local businessmen Billy Arcement and Cliff Ourso, Gonzales City Engineer Jackie Baumann and consulting engineer Deric Murphy.
In addition to his years in parish government, Matassa has been a Gonzales councilman for five terms. Berthelot, a Republican, was mayor for much of Matassa’s time on the council but did not seek re-election in 2008.
Berthelot won his a second term in the Legislature in early September when no one opposed him.
Price, a Democrat from Gonzales, is a former 26-year member of the Parish School Board. He is heading into his second term in the Legislature.
Baumann formerly worked for parish government under Martinez before she moved to the city several years ago.
Murphy is a regular figure before the Parish Planning Commission representing housing and other developers. His company, Quality Engineering and Surveying, also has done work under contract for parish government.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.