Lafayette Parish Officials Meet with LA Secretary of State on Charter Corrections
On Feb. 25, 2019, the Louisiana Secretary of State hosted a meeting with Lafayette Parish officials to discuss errors in a recent amendment to the Lafayette City-Parish Charter. Last week, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin questioned the constitutionality of the Dec. 8 vote to establish a new form of government with separate City and Parish Councils. Referencing four major errors and multiple technical errors in the Charter amendment language, Ardoin initially suggested a re-vote would be necessary and called for a meeting.
At the gathering, Mayor-President Joel Robideaux questioned if a vote of the people is required and asked Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Paul Escott to present his legal interpretation. With regard to reapportionment, Escott stated that the Charter may be amended via ordinance. Ardoin reminded everyone that any changes made to the Charter is the responsibility of the local governing authority – the City-Parish Council. Ardoin said it is not his role to provide the legal mechanism to make the corrections and suggested a Louisiana Attorney General’s opinion should be considered.
“As questions and concerns began to arise about the errors in the amendment, I think it was important for us all to come together and determine how to best move forward,” stated Robideaux. “I appreciate the Secretary of State keeping an open mind on how this can be resolved. The process moving forward needs to be managed in a way that helps regain the public’s trust.”
According to Louisiana Commissioner of Elections Sherri Wharton Hadskey, her office needs corrective action finalized by July 1 in order to move forward with the October elections. Robideaux cautions against rushing through the fix stating, “It is imperative to get it right this time. The Commissioner has given the Council ample time for a thorough and public process.”
Also in attendance at the meeting was a representative from the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret, Lafayette Parish Registrar of Voters Charlene Meaux Menard, Lafayette City-Parish Council Chairman Jared Bellard, Lafayette City-Parish Clerk of Council Veronica Williams and demographer Mike Hefner.