Six Lafayette City-Parish Council members have announced town hall meetings for next week concerning proposed charter amendments that would split the council into separate bodies, one for the city and one for the parish.
The announcements Thursday followed a contentious meeting Tuesday during which the council voted by the slimmest margin to introduce an ordinance that would place the proposal before voters. The introduction passed 5-3, with Councilman Pat Lewis, Councilman Jared Bellard and Councilman William Theriot voting against. The ordinance needed five votes to advance at this stage.
Councilman Kevin Naquin, who has said he supports the ordinance, was absent.
The sponsors of the ordinance announced Friday that a vote for final approval is planned Aug. 7, two weeks later than originally envisioned. The delay is to "facilitate more time for public discussion," according to a press release.
Council members believe that still leaves enough time to legally submit a resolution to state authorities calling for the proposed charter amendments on the Dec. 8 ballot.
A super majority of six votes is necessary for final approval, so if the introduction votes hold and Naquin maintains his support, the ordinance will pass. However, there is strong opposition to the timing of the proposal, if not the concept.
Dissenting council members on Tuesday complained of being left out of the planning, particularly regarding the drafting of proposed new district maps. Members of the public, some of whom expressly supported splitting the council, urged the council to go about it in a more deliberate fashion.
Councilwoman Liz Hebert was the swing vote Tuesday, since the other four had already expressed support. Hebert, one of the council members planning to host a town hall, was quiet leading up to the vote, and she has not otherwise let on how firmly she supports moving forward.
From the other direction, Lewis’ opposition was based in part on the proposed new maps, which chopped up his largely city-based district more than any other. He was particularly miffed that he hadn’t been included in the drafting, given the result. It’s not clear if a new set of maps drafted with his input could persuade him to support the measure.
Below is the schedule of meetings:
Monday, July 16: Districts 6 and 8 (Conque & Hebert)
Southside Regional Library, 6101 Johnston Street
Tuesday, July 17: District 4 (Boudreaux)
Clifton Chenier Center auditorium, 200 W. Willow Street
Wednesday, July 18: District 7 (Cook)
Comeaux Recreation Center, 411 W. Bluebird Drive
Thursday, July 19: District 3 (Lewis)
Lafayette City-Parish Council auditorium, 705 W. University Avenue
Thursday, July 19: District 2 (Castille)
Carencro Community Center, 5115 N. University Avenue