The Lafayette Charter Commission will vote Monday on a proposal put forth by Commissioner Bruce Conque that the terms of the Lafayette City-Parish Council as well as that of City-Parish President Joey Durel be extended by one year. Currently, the CPC and Durel are scheduled to face re-election (should they choose to seek another term; each councilman is in his first term while Durel is in his second) in October of 2011.
Conque has expressed concern that any recommendations regarding the Lafayette Home Rule Charter made by the commission likely wouldn’t go to a vote of the parish until after the October 2011 election, and because state law prohibits a term in office from being shortened, any changes to consolidated government approved by parish voters wouldn’t be able to take effect until 2016 — after the next CPC and city-parish president complete the four-year term that will begin when they’re sworn into office in January of 2012. By extending the term by one year — the CPC and city-parish president elections would move to October of 2012 — changes to consolidated government approved by voters could likely take effect in January 2013.
In a letter to fellow commissioners, Conque acknowledges that it will be “challenging, if not impossible,” according to a preliminary opinion of LCG’s legal department, to undertake the necessary steps to get a term-extension proposition a ballot before the fall 2011 election. “While I have great respect for the legal wisdom of Counsel,” Conque writes, “I cannot concede the issue of time constraints and do nothing to advance our work product.”
Conque envisions at time table wherein the commission recommends on Monday, Aug. 30 that a term-extension proposition go before voters; the CPC would have to approve an introductory ordinance, ideally on Sept. 7, with final approval on Sept. 20; the deadline to submit the proposition to the secretary of state’s office would be March 15, 2011, clearing the way for an April 30, 2011 vote.
Moving the election, Conque points out in the letter, would also offer the benefit of giving officials more time to redraw council and school board districts following the receipt of census data next spring.