BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's a decision that's not sitting well with some members of the Baton Rouge Metro Council.
"I'm really disappointed in the short-sightedness and the despicable act that has happened," said Matt Watson, who represents District 11.
Four democratic members announced they would not vote to temporarily fill the seat left open by their colleague, Buddy Amoroso, after his tragic death. The move is now setting off a firestorm of criticism for those behind it.
Watson lit up the airwaves on Talk 107.3 early Wednesday morning and did not hold back his outright disgust at the move, calling it a new political low. "I think it's unfortunate that four intelligent adult people who are responsible for their own decisions have fallen prey to being influenced to do something so despicable," Watson added.
The goal behind the collective effort by council members LaMont Cole, Donna Collins-Lewis, Chauna Banks and Erika Green is seemingly to add another democrat to the 12-member body in hopes of balancing things out when it comes to making decisions. Watson though slammed the act Wednesday, calling it disrespectful.
"To be in this spot and to do something in this way, it doesn't seem very well thought out and judging by the crawfishing that you've seen, they probably are rethinking what their stance was in that press release," said Watson.
Supporters of the effort by the four Democrats though say they do have the right to refuse to vote and that the same thing has been done before. Back in 2016 when Representative C. Denise Marcelle vacated her seat to serve in the legislature, she nominated Councilman Lamont Cole to take over.
Archived video of that meeting on the East Baton Rouge city-parish website appears to show Amoroso choosing not to vote at the time and instead nominating a Republican to serve. When Cole got the vote necessary though, Amoroso can later be seen applauding Cole's victory and even asking that he be allowed to get to work right away. "Can we take a five minute recess so Mr. Cole sign the papers and get sworn in so he can be an active member in this meeting?" Amoroso asked in the archived video.
Supporters of the current move say what the Democrats are doing now is no different from that situation, but Watson disagrees. He believes it's one thing to support another candidate, but something completely different to try to halt the political process. "It's vastly different," said Watson. "The rest of the Republicans didn't conspire with Buddy to shut the process down [at that time]. White Republicans all voted to put who I've always thought as my friend, LaMont Cole, in Denise Marcelle's seat and he sits there today."
With the metro council set to make a decision next Thursday, July 19, Watson says he just wants to move on and get back to doing the peoples' business, but believes now that will be hard, regardless of who fills the District 8 seat. "That's going to be very difficult because of this horrific action by these four folks," he added.
WAFB's Scottie Hunter attempted to reach out to each of the four council members who said they would not vote; however, none of them have commented further on the story.
Late Tuesday evening, those council members did release a revised joint statement, saying they would meet face-to-face with Amoroso's widow, Denise, and would revisit their decision at that time.