Gonzales Council sets special election date

Gonzales Council sets special election date

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - As Timothy Vessel collected his name plate from the Gonzales City Council table, he smiled and shook hands with everyone around.

"I'm happy. I'm victorious," Vessel said.

Those are not the words one would expect to hear from a city leader who was just recalled by an overwhelming 75 percent of voters. However, the ousted Vessel hinted that he wasn't done yet as he left is final council meeting.

"Be active in the community, look forward to 2016," Vessel said of his next move.

Some believe Vessel may be looking forward to 2016 because he is planning to make a run for Mayor.

However, in the meantime, the remaining city councilmen must fill two vacant seats. The other empty chair at the table belonged to former Councilman Gary Lacombe. The group Save Gonzales also targeted him for a recall; but Lacombe chose to resign instead of facing voters.

The votes from Saturday's recall election will be certified Tuesday.

"We'll possibly have to call a special meeting. We'd like to go ahead and replace both of those gentleman at the same time at the same meeting. So that's our goal right now," said Mayor Barney Arceneaux.

Save Gonzales members had been trying to push out Lacombe and Vessel for nine months. They claimed the two were holding up the city's progress. Things were further complicated when the council could not agree on a budget, leading to multiple mayoral vetoes and leaving the city's finances in limbo for months.

Residents say they're happy to see the change.

"Now that we get a council that can work together again the city will move forward," Gonzales resident and Save Gonzales member Neal Bourque.

The special election is scheduled for March 28, 2015. Arceneaux said he's already had several calls from residents wanting to fill in until voters get to make their choice. The Mayor will recommend two temporary replacements and the Council will have the final say.

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