ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A 24-year-old Galvez man filed official paperwork with the Secretary of State's Office Wednesday to launch a petition to recall Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa.
It has been rumored for months, but Brennan Howell pulled the trigger, saying Matassa needs to be removed from office.
"I felt like it was my duty as a citizen, and to give the people of Ascension Parish a better option." Howell said.
Now that a grand jury has indicted Matassa on a bribery charge, Howell says he has lost confidence that the parish leader can focus on the peoples' business.
"Having to fight it for God knows how long, he won't be able to do his job properly and I think it's time for Ascension Parish to move on," Howell added.
Howell has just 180 days to get at least one-third of the 75,548 registered voters in Ascension Parish to sign the petition. In order to be successful, he needs to obtain 25,157 signatures. While he already has a following on social media, Howell admits getting that many people on board may be a challenge.
When asked by WAFB reporter Scottie Hunter if he thought it would be hard to translate clicks into signatures, Howell replied, "Yes, probably so because as you know, it's easier to hop on your phone and press like on something or comment on something."
Lewis Unglesby, whose firm represents Matassa, calls the effort to unseat his client premature because the parish leader hasn't been convicted of anything.
"That's ridiculous," Unglesby said. "To try to recall Kenny Matassa just fundamentally goes against the grain of America."
Unglesby said the grand jury last week only heard one side of the case and calls the audio recordings leaked last summer that appear to catch the alleged bribe "flimsy." Saying, among other things, you cannot tell whether the conversation was serious or a joke.
"My argument right now is that I don't think anybody, including the attorney general has a legitimate set of tapes that they're ready to stand behind," Unglesby said in regards to the validity of the tape.
Howell doesn't buy it though, and says whether convicted or not, Ascension Parish deserves better.
"That's what his attorney is paid to say," Howell said. "I think the good 'ole boy system has put a dark shadow over our parish and the entire state for an extremely long time, and I think this is the time that the people can finally stand up and push back."
Howell has created a Facebook group for people to follow the petition's progress, which can be viewed here.
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