At their last Jefferson Parish Council meeting before leaving office, veteran at-large Councilman Elton Lagasse promised that he would always be around to help parish officials whenever they needed him, and Parish President John Young said he is proud of the shape Jefferson is in.
The 76-year-old Lagasse — whose October bid to succeed Young came up short — joked Wednesday that he would be looking for things to do because he doesn’t fish or play golf. Though he vowed to spend time with his grandchildren, he told the audience at the Parish Council chambers in Gretna, “Anything I can do, I’m always here. I’ll never tell you what to do, but I can tell you what not to do.”
Meanwhile, Young, 58, said the government budget his administration drew up in 2016 — which is $27 million more than the one for this year and $52 million more than the one for 2014, despite basically no new significant costs — was a strong indicator that Jefferson was fiscally healthy.
That was remarkable given that in the past decade Jefferson has weathered Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Isaac as well as the 2010 BP oil spill, Young said. The parish also witnessed a corruption scandal that sent Young’s predecessor, Aaron Broussard, to federal prison in 2012 on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and theft.
“The best days of Jefferson Parish are ahead,” said Young, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor this fall. Turning his attention to parish officials at Wednesday’s meeting, Young said, “I wish each and every one of you staying on the best of luck and good fortune.”
Lagasse — who has had previous stints as a Jefferson Parish School Board member and public schools superintendent — had been on the council since 2004 before losing a race for the parish presidency that he lost to Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni. Lagasse’s at-large seat will be filled by Cynthia Lee-Sheng, who has been representing Metairie-based council District 5.
Lee-Sheng’s successor in District 5 will be Councilwoman-elect Jennifer Van Vrancken.
Young, for his part, also joined the Parish Council in 2004 and won a special election in 2010 to become Jefferson’s president after Broussard resigned in the wake of the corruption scandal. He won his current term unopposed in 2011; and, without elaborating, he said he is considering “several” employment options for when he leaves office.
Yenni, Van Vrancken and Lee-Sheng will be sworn into their new roles on Jan. 6.