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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Lafourche Parish president to seek re-election

Lafourche Parish president to seek re-election

Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle says he’s plans to fight for his seat in parish government before his term expires at the end of 2019.

Yet, the first-term president is still lacking a right-hand man.

On Tuesday, the Parish Council voted 5-4 against Cantrelle’s latest nomination of Rodney Doucet to fill the vacant position.

“We’re getting better,” Cantrelle said.

Previous votes on his nominees for parish administrator were 7-2, 7-2 and 4-2 against.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Cantrelle laughed when asked what his plans were for the parish’s no. 2 position.

“I’m laughing because it’s so ... so ridiculous,” he said, referring to the four nominations that have been rejected by the Parish Council since February.

Cantrelle has 60 days to make another nomination, but the only prospects he offered today were the Pope and Jesus.

No interim administrator

Cantrelle and his lawyer James Cobb are also appealing a Lafourche Court’s injunction against him and former interim administrator Brent Abadie.

Last month, Judge Buddy Larose granted a preliminary injunction against Cantrelle and Abadie, stating that a person may not serve in an interim position after they have been rejected for the permanent job.

A hearing originally scheduled for Monday was rescheduled for Jan. 16.

While that appeal is pending, Cantrelle said he hasn’t named a new interim administrator. In a previous interview, Abadie said he was transitioning back to his civil service job as risk manager.

“I don’t know what to do any more,” he said about the interim job. “I have no clue.”

The council also overrode eight of Cantrelle’s 10 budget amendment vetoes Tuesday. For seven of them, Cantrelle proposed alternate funding sources and told council members that if they didn’t override his vetoes, he would file supplemental appropriations to pay for the projects next year, just using different funds. In almost every case, the council overrode them anyway.

Cantrelle said Wednesday that he still plans to file the supplemental appropriations to ensure the best funding streams for the projects.

The parish president’s salary has also been scrutinized this year. The parish president is scheduled to receive a $36,000 raise according to a formula used to calculate the pay. Cantrelle said that increase will go toward his scholarships.

Seeking another term

Despite the turmoil between himself and the council, Cantrelle said he will seek a second term in next year’s election.

He already faces two named opponents, Archie Chaisson, Thibodaux Public Works director and former parish administrator, and current Lafourche Parish Council Chairwoman Luci Sposito.

Successfully working with the council was one of Cantrelle’s campaign promises during the 2015 election. He says it’s the only one he hasn’t fulfilled.

“My door will be always open for any councilman or anybody in Lafourche Parish,” Cantrelle said during his swearing-in ceremony in 2016. “If we all work together, we can pull the wagon in the same direction. But if we start pulling in different directions, we will never accomplish anything.”

Today, Cantrelle took some of the blame for the tension between the two branches of government.

“It’s probably partly my fault, and probably other people’s fault,” he said. “I wish we could go back and do it again.”

However, Cantrelle says he’s lived up to his other campaign promises, like accomplishing drainage projects, straightening up the permitting department and opening two satellite offices, giving a portion of his salary to local scholarships, instating term limits and opening an early voting site in central Lafourche.

The primary election next year will be held on Oct. 12, with signups beginning Aug. 6. If necessary, a runoff will be held Nov. 16.

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.