Gonzales council names four to various offices

The Gonzales City Council on Monday night selected a new mayor pro tem and reappointed its city attorney, city clerk and city tax collector but not unanimously.

Terrance Irvin, who was first elected to the council in 2000, defeated Kenny Matassa by a 3-2 vote to replace longtime mayor pro tem Joe Waguespack, who was not re-elected in November after nearly three decades on the council.

Irvin and Matassa were two of three councilmen who originally expressed an interest in serving as mayor pro tem, leading Mayor Barney Arceneaux to explain prior to nominations what would happen in case of a split vote. However, first-year Councilman Tim Vessel reconsidered his interest and instead backed Irvin, who also received the support of first-year Councilman Gary Lacombe.

Matassa and Councilman Kirk Boudreaux voted against Irvin’s appointment.

Irvin, who voted for himself for mayor pro tem, thanked the council members for choosing him and said he looked forward to serving in the role. Under Lawrason Act rules, the mayor pro tem would run council meetings if the mayor is unable to attend and serve as acting mayor due to a physical or mental disability preventing the mayor from continuing to serve.

The council also approved Arceneaux’s appointments for city attorney, city clerk and city tax collector. Arceneaux reappointed Ryland Percy, Clay Stafford and Jenny Villnerve to those offices.

Stafford, who serves as the city’s finance director, and Villnerve, who also handles permits for the city, were confirmed unanimously. As clerk, Stafford maintains the minutes for council meetings and records. Villnerve is responsible for all tax collections in the city.

Arceneaux said Stafford and Villnerve had done “a wonderful job” in their roles with the city.

The mayor and Police Chief Sherman Jackson praised Percy, who has been the city attorney for more than two decades, but his confirmation wasn’t unanimous.

Vessel voted against Percy’s appointment and instead tried to nominate Dwight Poirrier for the position.

Stafford, however, told Vessel that because Percy had three votes, he already had the position.

Irvin, Lacombe and Matassa supported Percy, while Boudreaux abstained because his wife works at Percy’s law firm, he said.

Percy was hired at a rate of $185 per hour, the same rate he has charged the city for the past four years, Arceneaux said.