The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council's appointment of a new parish attorney wasn’t the close, and hotly contested, vote most council members had predicted. 

Council’s appointment Wednesday night of Andy Dotson happened without any debate among city-parish leaders and was unanimously approved. 

In a brief statement, Dotson thanked the council for their confidence in his ability to lead the office going forward. 

Dotson had been serving in the position on an interim basis for the past six months after the former parish attorney, Lea Anne Batson, resigned when some council members targeted her for removal in January.

"I just want to say thank you and that I look forward to continuing the work I already started in the office," Dotson said after Wednesday's vote. 

Dotson was scored the highest by the selection committee following a round of interviews last month of the five applicants. 

Many council members had indicated Tuesday that the vote would be split between Dotson and Greg Rome, the director of risk management and litigation in the Parish Attorney's Office.

Rome received the second-highest score. His longtime friendship with Councilman Chandler Loupe was another factor some thought would tip the vote in his favor. 

"We should have the most-qualified candidate who puts the needs of the people before the needs of the council members and their political wants," Spanish Town resident Mary Jane Marcantel told the council Wednesday night. "We need a person that runs this office in a professional way and holds the employees accountable for their work."

Marcantel stressed she wasn't advocating for any particular candidate. 

But Penny Landry, another resident, immediately followed Marcantel and recommended the council choose Dotson because "he's been extremely responsive" to her and was the most qualified for the job in her opinion. 

Dotson will continue to lead the Parish Attorney's Office after having served as the chief city prosecutor.

On Wednesday, the Metro Council also had its first debate over proposed changes to the parish's Plan of Government.

Committee members who spent the past 18 months drafting a set of recommended changes to the parish's constitution reviewed the first four chapters of their proposed tweaks with the council. 

Some of the proposals include: adding two at-large seats to the Metro Council, thus reducing single district seats from 12 to 10; requiring the administration to submit its proposed budget to the council in October instead of November; limiting the number of terms for the mayor-president from three to two consecutive terms; and creating a new executive staff position to work under the mayor-president. 

A resident's plea for the council to hold more public meetings about the proposed changes before deciding whether to present them to parish voters sparked the most chatter among council members Wednesday night. 

"It’s complicated and a lot to wrap your head around," Christine Assaf, vice president of the Progressive Social Network, said to the council. "You really need to do a lot of public outreach to get some understanding on this."

Whether that will happen is unknown at this point. But Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis, who chaired the Plan of Government committee, agreed with Assaf's sentiments. 

"It’s up to this body and public to determine what they want and what they don’t want," Collins-Lewis said. 

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