The current terms in office of the Lafayette City-Parish Council and City-Parish President Joey Durel will not be extended by one year; a proposal to put a proposition before parish voters doing just that was tabled last night by charter commissioner Bruce Conque, who says Tuesday that Monday night was a one and only opportunity to get a term extension proposition in motion.
Council and city-parish president elections are in October 2011. Conque pushed the term-extension idea as a way of ensuring that any changes to the Home Rule Charter proposed by the charter commission and put to a parishwide vote could go into effect as soon as possible. By extending the terms in office by one year, charter amendments or new, separate city- and parish charters could go into effect in January of 2013. As it stands, any changes to the way Lafayette Parish governs itself will not go into effect until January of 2016, when the four-year terms of the council members and city-parish president elected next fall end.
Conque had hoped to get a parishwide proposition on a ballot by April of 2011, but he tabled the motion after being advised by LCG’s legal department that according to the ordinance creating the commission, once voters vote on a recommendation from the commission — in this case extending the terms of Durel et al — the commission's work would be done, shutting down the process almost two weeks before it is scheduled to end and possibly jeopardizing making other recommendations about the charter.
“It was obvious there was not enough support to gain commission approval,” Conque concedes. “An additional concern was that, if the recommendation were to be presented for voter consideration on April 2, 2011, the work of the commission would be ended — 11 days earlier than the deadline established by ordinance.”
Conque adds that those 11 days could be critical to the commission’s mission: “I want as much time as possible for the deliberation process.”