The Lafayette Charter Commission has been named after the City-Parish Council voted in seven members and City-Parish President Joey Durel appointed a pair.
[Editor's Note: This in an update to a story posted Tuesday morning concerning the commission tasked with studying and recommending changes to or repeal of the Lafayette Home Rule Charter. The original story inaccurately forecast possible revelations about the council's intentions for the commission and where the commission's meetings may lead. In fact, the votes by the council and the appointments by City-Parish President Joey Durel revealed very little. The original story follows the update..]
Nine Lafayette residents - five from the city and four from the unincorporated parish, including a black resident from each of the geographic units - will be sworn in on Wednesday, July 21 to serve on the Lafayette Charter Commission following a series of votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council and appointments by City-Parish President Joey Durel. The commission includes a pair of former City-Parish Council members and a former state representative.
Comprising the commission are Aaron Walker, Steve Oats, Odon Bacque, Bruce Conque, George Lewis, Desmond Miller, Greg Manuel, Karen Carson and Randy Menard.
Durel appointed Lewis, a former city and parish auditor, and Menard, a former city-parish councilman, to the panel. Others with political experience on the commission will be Conque, a former councilman, Bacque, a former state representative, and Walker, former head of the Lafayette chapter of the NAACP. Oats, a Lafayette attorney, served previously on the state Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.
The nine-member charter commission will be pressed into service Tuesday evening at a Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting that could revive debate about the future of consolidated government in the parish. The CPC will vote on seven of the nine members; City-Parish President Joey Durel will make the other two appointments.
Thirty-three applicants comprise the pool of candidates - 23 are city of Lafayette residents, including five minority-race members; of the 10 remaining residents of unincorporated Lafayette Parish, two are minorities. According to the ordinance establishing the commission, five of the nine members must be city residents, one of them a minority; the other four commission members must be unincorporated residents, one of them also a minority. Durel's two appointments must meet each of the geographic requirements.
Several familiar names from Lafayette's civic, political and business communities are among the candidates for the commission, including former District 6 Councilman Bruce Conque, former Republican state Rep. Ernie Alexander, Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee Secretary Mike Stagg, Aaron Walker, former president of Lafayette's NAACP chapter, and Cajundome Director Greg Davis, who is also seeking the District 2 seat on the Lafayette Parish School Board this fall.
With some members of the CPC having already openly expressed a preference for repealing the Lafayette Home Rule Charter and returning to dual city and parish forms of government - counterbalanced by as many CPC members voicing hostility to deconsolidation - Tuesday's appointment process could reveal much about what the council hopes the commission recommends after nine months of meetings. As the ordinance reads, the commission has the option of "reviewing, studying and proposing either revisions, additions or amendments to the Home Rule Charter of Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government or to prepare and propose alternate charters for the City of Lafayette and or the Parish of Lafayette."
Once the commission is sworn in and begins its work, the fate of Lafayette Parish's constitution for governance will be out of the council's hands; the commission's recommendation(s) will go directly before voters, be it a minor tweak or two to the existing charter of what many in the community view as the nuclear option - deconsolidation. To get up to speed on who the candidates are, tune in all day Tuesday to AOC leading up to the 5:30 meeting; the community access cable channel is airing the interviews with the commission applicants that were held a few weeks ago.
To view the list of charter commission candidates, click here.