Ascension council re-elects its leaders

The Ascension Parish Council’s leadership team of Chris Loar and Benny Johnson will serve a second year together.

Loar was re-elected council chairman Thursday night by a 8-2 vote, while Johnson was unanimously re-elected as vice chairman.

Councilmen Daniel “Doc” Satterlee and Bryan Melancon voted against Loar, though no other council member was nominated to run against him for the chair.

“I feel very fortunate and blessed that the vast majority of you understand what good government is about,” Loar said, citing compromise, good communication and the ability to work through issues reasonably as key to making the council successful.

“Compromise is the essence of good government,” he added.

Johnson, who drew no opposition and no objection to his appointment as vice chairman, said he was thankful to have the opportunity to continue serving as vice chairman.

Councilman Randy Clouatre praised Loar and Johnson for having an “open-door policy” and working to move the parish in a positive direction.

“Chris and Benny, thank you very much for your leadership,” Clouatre said.

Not everyone had glowing praise, however.

Melancon said he didn’t agree with Loar’s style of leadership, saying he had been treated with “contempt” by Loar and had seen others treated the same way.

Satterlee, meanwhile, read a list of items to “discuss (his) displeasure” with Loar. Among Satterlee’s criticisms were Loar’s not allowing certain council members to place items on the agenda, the late additions of “very, very important items” to the agenda and allowing council members to speak before being recognized by the chairman.

Satterlee and Melancon both recently finished their first year in office and clashed with Loar at times during 2012.

Councilman Kent Schexnaydre, who was first elected to the council in 2003, said council members inevitably will have differing opinions, but the important thing is to act in a professional manner.

“I’ve been on the council for 10 years, and this is by far the most professionally run meetings,” he said.

Loar said 2012 was a good year for Ascension Parish, and while the council didn’t accomplish all of its goals last year, he looks forward to trying to have an even better 2013.

“I know we plan on being very aggressive this year,” Loar said.

Other action taken by the council included:

TAX ELECTION: The council called for a special election on May 4 to renew a 1.5-mill property tax for 10 years which would raise approximately $1.3 million per year to pay for programming at the Ascension Council on Aging.