Election changes makeup of City Council

The Gonzales City Council will have a new look soon.

Two incumbent councilmen — including seven-term councilman and mayor pro tem Joe Waguespack — were defeated in last week’s election. Waguespack lost to Timothy Vessel Sr., while John Cagnolatti was defeated in his bid for a second term on the council by Gary Lacombe.

Vessel, 46, and Lacombe, 54, will join incumbents Kenny Matassa and Terance Irvin, who both won re-election last week, and Kirk Boudreaux, who didn’t draw an opponent in the election. Matassa, 62, now is the longest-tenured councilman, entering his fifth term. Irvin, 46, was elected for his fourth term, while Boudreaux, 54, will enter his second term.

Meanwhile, there will be no changes on the council in Donaldsonville. Charles Brown and Emile Spano both easily won re-election, while Lauthaught Delaney Sr., Raymond Aucoin and Reginald Francis Sr. didn’t draw opponents in the election.

Gonzales City Clerk Clay Stafford said an inauguration ceremony has not been scheduled, but the council members — both new and old — will be sworn in during one of the January meetings.

Vessel, a former city public works employee, attended the council meeting earlier this week and said he was ready to begin working on behalf of the city’s residents.

“The citizens of Gonzales have spoken,” he said. “I look forward to moving the city forward.”

Lacombe, meanwhile, was out of town this week and unavailable for comment.

Waguespack said he was disappointed with the results of the election. He drew an opponent for the first time after running unopposed for five consecutive elections after previously being in an at-large pool of candidates in 1984 and 1988.

“I’ve never considered myself a politician,” said Waguespack, the son of former Ascension Parish Sheriff Hickley Waguespack. “I consider myself a public servant. So I’m probably the worst politician who’s ever been in office.”

Waguespack said he didn’t accept campaign contributions, and he refused to say a bad word about his opponent during the election. However, he said he was disappointed that he wasn’t given the same consideration.

“I have no regrets,” he said. “I’d have never done it any different. I’m disappointed that my record, integrity and character were called to issue. That I’ll never forgive.”

Through more than 28 years of public service, Waguespack said he was proud of many different achievements. Two of the greatest, he said, were helping to bring the city into a better fiscal position and getting a tax passed in 2001 to aid the fire and police departments and provide residential garbage pickup for citizens.

“The day I walk out Gonzales will probably be in the best economic situation it’s ever been in and a city that is the envy of other cities,” Waguespack said.