GONZALES — The City Council said goodbye to its “dean” this week.
Joe Waguespack, who served on the council for 28 years, and one-term Councilman John Cagnolatti attended their final council meeting on Monday. Their terms expire in December, and new council members Gary Lacombe and Tim Vessel will be sworn-in on Jan. 14.
Mayor Barney Arceneaux presented Waguespack, 65, and Cagnolatti, 64, with plaques commemorating their service to the city, calling the moment “kind of bittersweet.”
Waguespack, who served as mayor pro tem, said it was an “honor” to serve his hometown for the past 28 years. “From where it was in ’84 to where it is today, I had a lot to do with that and I’m extremely proud of that,” he said.
Cagnolatti, meanwhile, served on the city’s Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Commission for 13 years and said he waited until he found the right opportunity to pursue serving on the council.
“I think the thing I recognized the most in these four years is I truly enjoyed serving the people,” he said.
In other action, the council voted to place a new member on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
Ralph Delatte, a local businessman who ran for a seat on the council four years ago, was unanimously appointed to serve on the panel, replacing its chairman, Larry Boudreaux, who is stepping down at the end of the year after 22 years of service.
Delatte’s appointment didn’t come without some controversy.
Councilman Terance Irvin, who praised Boudreaux and said serving with him on the commission was “extremely enriching,” asked for a delay in the vote so the new council members could seek a new procedure for naming commissioners.
The mayor recommends candidates to the council, who have the authority to confirm or reject them.
Irvin said he simply wants the city to inform residents when vacancies occur to see who might be interested in serving.
Arceneaux said he would be in favor of a new policy in which council members can nominate someone for the mayor’s consideration.