PLAQUEMINE, LA (WAFB) - History was made in Plaquemine Tuesday night at City Hall where the council voted in Sue Gulotta as the first woman to hold the title of mayor.
She was sworn in and now takes over the city after her husband Tony Gulotta, who died on Sept. 10, previously reigned over Plaquemine as the longest serving mayor for more than two decades.
After his passing, Mayor Pro Tem Oscar Mellion stepped in as interim mayor until the council appointed Gulotta's replacement. But some are asking why Mellion didn't get the nod to as mayor, instead of Gulotta's wife.
"Traditionally, before I become a councilman, they had that. They would ask a family member to fill the seat," said Plaquemine councilman Jimmie Randle Jr.
Randle has been a Plaquemine councilman for 15 years. In fact, at Tuesday night's council meeting, he made the motion for the mayor pro tem to finish out Gulotta's term. But, he did not have a second, so it failed.
Others are asking if race had any role in the decision. Mellion is black and has been on the council about 20 years. Sue is white and has no experience as a mayor.
"It's who I felt was most experienced. It's not a race issue. We get along. We all get along. We're going to do what's best for the citizens of Plaquemine," said Randle.
Randle said traditionally in Plaquemine, a family member takes over. He said when Tony's brother, Police Chief Orian Gulotta, died six months ago, his wife was offered the job but she turned it down and Kenny Payne was appointed chief.
The Gulottas' father, "Tiger Joe," died while he was a councilman. His wife also took over. But, Randle felt this may be different because of the position.
"I just think that the mayor's position is more important than the council members. He deals with the day-to-day operations. He deals with all the contractors that come in," said Randle.
After his motion failed, Randle voted in favor of Sue saying there are no racial or work tensions. It's simply moving forward with what's best for the citizens.
Sue Gulotta's term as mayor goes through Dec. 31, 2016.