West Feliciana leaders open door to changing governmental system again

West Feliciana leaders open door to changing governmental system again

WEST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Just three years after West Feliciana Parish voters elected to introduce a form of government, parish leaders created an opportunity Monday to change it back again.

Voting four to three, the council selected to hold a public hearing about returning to a Police Jury governmental system. At that time, the council will decide whether a change in government will appear on the November ballot for public vote.

Dozens of residents filled the council chamber during Monday's meeting, most of them calling for the current "Home Rule Charter" government to remain.

"We voted three years ago to have the Home Rule Charter. Why must we have to re-vote? Why do we have to prove that we knew what we were voting for?" said Becky Hilliard, one of many community members who took to the podium to voice their concerns.

In 2012, a majority of residents voted to introduce a Home Rule Charter government in the parish. As part of the ongoing transition, a Police Jury of seven elected leaders would be replaced by a five-member council and president. Four council members would represent regions of the parish, while another council member would be at large.

"I like it because I don't have one person representing me, I have three," Hilliard said, referring to the president, council member-at-large, and her district's council member.

But not all of the council members agree. As part of the implementation of the new government, redistricting has to occur, which some council members said negatively impacts voter representation.

"It's not equally distributed," said Councilwoman Lea Williams. "I think you should be able to have a public hearing on it."

Members of the public fired a warning shot at the council members voting for a change in government.

"Listen to what the people of West Feliciana stated they voted for and go with it," said one resident, referring to the 2012 vote.

"The vote you take tonight will seal your fate," said Hilliard. "We will make sure you are not elected to another position of authority just to ignore another vote."

They plan to continue voicing their concerns at the public hearing.

"We can fill the room again and we will," Hilliard said.

The public hearing will be held on Monday, September 14, at which point the council decide whether the governmental system change will be put up for a public vote.

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