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Sunday, September 16, 2018



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Parish president prepares more nominations

Parish president prepares more nominations



Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle said he’s uncertain whether he will seek a second term in office, but he’s preparing to make another round of nominations for parish administrator and finance director.

Cantrelle said he plans to formally nominate current Risk Manager Brent Abadie as parish administrator. Abadie was recently nominated to serve as finance director but was rejected by a 5-0 vote of the Parish Council in July. Both positions have lacked a permanent director since Feb. 1.

“He’s super-qualified, super-educated,” Cantrelle said, noting Abadie’s law degree from Tulane University.

The nomination would be placed on the council agenda for the second meeting in September, he said.

Abadie is currently serving as the interim administrator after the Parish Council voted to fire Tommy Lasseigne from the position last week.

“I take it very seriously; I hope they take it seriously,” Cantrelle said of the council. “I could have played some games with them, but I didn’t want to do that.”

According to the parish charter, once a department head nominee is rejected, that person cannot be nominated to the same position for six months. It doesn’t specify whether the person can be nominated for another position.

That six-month waiting period is almost over for Cantrelle’s first nomination for finance director, Lionel Lagarde Jr. Cantrelle said he plans to ask the council for an extra week to make his finance nomination so he can nominate Lagarde again.

“You’re not going to find a better fix for the Finance Department than Lionel Lagarde,” Cantrelle said.

That nomination is currently due Sept. 22.

Cantrelle said if the council doesn’t agree to extend the deadline, he would “nominate someone who’s not qualified then change it.”

He also noted that the parish charter does not have a clear penalty if he doesn’t make the nomination within 60 days.

“It’s hard to put someone through the same thing again,” Cantrelle said.

When Lagarde was first nominated for the position in April, the council delayed the vote for a few days and called a special meeting. Only six council members were present, with Councilman James Bourgeois being removed from the meeting before the vote due to a restraining order against him. The nomination failed by a 4-2 vote, with five votes needed to pass. Bourgeois said later that he would have supported the nomination had he been present.

“It’s getting harder and harder to find someone,” Cantrelle said. “No one is going to quit their job to work for year and a few months.”

As the council formed a charter revision committee earlier this year, Cantrelle said the committee should consider a change requiring the council to cite cause when it fires any department head or administrator. As the charter stands now, the council can remove a department head by the vote of a supermajority.

With these matters coming up for a vote soon, Cantrelle said, he hopes the administration and council can work together.

“People are fed up; I’m fed up,” he said.

As next year’s election approaches, Cantrelle said he’s still undecided about whether he will seek a second term.

He said three factors will help him decide: his relationship with the Parish Council, a poll he plans to conduct on the election’s potential outcome and the fate of the garbage sales tax.

“And if my health holds up,” Cantrelle said.

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