East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman LaMont Cole joined Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and two others as a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the incorporation of St. George.

Baton Rouge attorney Mary Olive Pierson, who's leading the legal team representing the mayor, Cole and two other plaintiffs, said Friday they amended the petition filed in the 19th Judicial Court this week to include the councilman in response to criticism from St. George proponents claiming Broome is ineligible to file a lawsuit contesting the incorporation. 

The St. George backers asserted the state law outlining how incorporation can occur, and subsequently be challenged, prohibits the mayor from contesting the election because Broome isn't the governing authority of the city-parish. The Metro Council is. 

Woody Jenkins, a former state representative, St. George supporter and editor of the St. George Leader, argues in his publication that Broome would likely be dismissed as a plaintiff. "Louisiana law defines 'governing authority' of a municipality very carefully as the legislative branch of the municipal government, namely the city council, or in our case the Metro Council," Jenkins wrote. Just like the president and the governor, the mayor-president is not considered an official of the legislative branch, he says.

Pierson, in a prepared statement Friday, disagrees on Broome's eligibility.

"The mayor is certainly an authorized and a proper party plaintiff in the lawsuit," she wrote.  "We are adding a council member, LaMont Cole, … hopefully to save some time and end the crazy talk that Mayor Broome is not a proper plaintiff."

Pierson added: "Now we have a plaintiff in every category of specifically permissive and proper plaintiffs."

In addition to Broome and Cole, attorney Lewis Unglesby and M.E. Cormier are listed as plaintiffs in the privately funded lawsuit. Unglesby lives in the proposed St. George area and Cormier lives just outside the boundaries of the proposed city. Cormier led one of the many groups opposing the incorporation. 

Pierson highlighted several state statutes supporting her arguments, such as Article 681 of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure which states, "Except as otherwise provided by law, an action can be brought only by a person having a real and actual interest which he asserts." 

"As mayor-president of the City of Baton Rouge and the entire parish, Mayor Broome has a real and actual interest which we have asserted on her behalf," Pierson said.   

The lawsuit, filed against lead St. George organizers Chris Rials and Norman Browning, asks state District Court Judge William Morvant to deny the incorporation based on the negative impact the plaintiffs say it would have on the city-parish. The lawsuit also asserts the St. George organizers are ill-prepared to operate the proposed city based on details in their "fantasy budget."

Drew Murrell, an attorney and spokesman for the St. George campaign, said Friday he hasn't seen the amended petition and thereby didn't have a comment specifically about Cole's addition to the lawsuit.

Murrell did reiterate his disappointment in the city-parish trying to challenge the results of the Oct. 12 election. 

St. George, which was supported by 17,422 voters in southeast East Baton Rouge, is set to become the fifth largest city in the state with a population of more than 86,000 people. The proposal to incorporate won by a 54-46 margin.

Email Terry Jones at tjones@theadvocate.com