West Feliciana voters head back to polls to re-vote

ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA (WAFB) - In a 4-3 vote, the West Feliciana police jurors voted to send people back to the polls for something to already voted on in November 2012.

Voters overturned the current style of government, with police jurors in November. However it's still intact, leaving people saying that's not how democracy works.

"We have a declining tax base. We need better economic development opportunities," said Z. Dave Deloach. He says in October 2010, several people approached the police jury to look at implementing what's called a Home Rule Charter form of government. The HRC would move the parish from having jurors to electing a parish president and council members.

Deloach says that would help bring in more business and put a face on the parish. With the police juror system, he says, there was no one person to talk to about certain issues. Under the Home Rule Charter, that responsibility would fall under the parish president.

"We were selected by police jury to participate in home rule charter commission, appointed with the task of writing the type of government we chose that would be good for the parish."

He says during the 18 months that they developed the charter, all meeting were made open to the public. In May 2012, they finished the charter and presented it to the police jury. It then moved to a vote of the people and in November 2012 it passed. But the jury has yet to move forward.

"Some jurors feel like the public was not fully aware of everything going on and just want to discuss some of those points - pros and cons," said Ricky Lambert, the chairman of the police jury.

Thursday night, some of the jurors are asking the home rule charter be repealed. One juror says they are split: four want to keep the police jury and three are ready to move forward with the Home Rule Charter, as was passed by voters.

"The agenda item calls for putting it on the ballot in front of the voters for possible appeal," said Lambert.

Becky Holliard is a citizen who attended every public meeting about the charter. She says she is tired of the jurors stalling.

"They're using the excuse, well people voted not knowing what they voted for. I'm sorry. You should have done your homework like I did. I was at almost all the commission meetings, voicing my opinions, asking questions," she said.

She believes what it boils down to, police jurors are worried about losing their jobs. Under the new form of government the seven police jurors would become four councilmen, one will serve at-large, with a parish president.

That's also outlined in the charter. Section C: Schedule of Transition reads as follows:

"...shall become effective on the date this charter is adopted by the voters of West Feliciana Parish. Upon such adoption of charter, police jurors in office shall serve until the first parish president assumes office..."

Deloach says that election should be happening this October, but instead the police jurors are trying to repeal laws they don't want implemented.

"In this country we typically don't re-vote things just because someone is not satisfied with the outcome," he said.

In order to have a vote for parish president on the October ballot, the jury has until July 17 to notify to Louisiana Secretary of State they want the election.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All right reserved.