City Councilman issued summons for violation of RS 18:1462

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Gonzales – On November 4, at approximately 7:30 a.m., City of Gonzales Police Sergeant Lance Bourgeois spotted City of Gonzales Councilman Timothy Vessel pedaling a three-wheeled bicycle covered in political signage along Irma Boulevard.

Vessel was riding the bicycle on the sidewalk area with three signs attached, reading “Gary Lacombe Gonzales City Council Division E,” “Elect Tim Vessel #66 City Councilman at Large and “Vote Against the Recall.”

At one point, Vessel parked his three-wheeled bicycle outside of the Ascension Parish Courthouse with the signage directed at East Ascension High School. Vessel was seen walking onto the East Ascension High School campus where voting was taking place. Vessel returned to his bicycle and again began traveling on Irma Boulevard, this time traveling north to Gonzales City Hall where voters were also gathered as it was used as a precinct.

Upon contacting the Secretary of State’s Office, it was confirmed that RS 18:1462 dictates that all political signage must be at least 600 feet from any polling station, regardless of what the signage in expressing.

Officers who witnessed Vessel measured the spots he had been seen riding and parking and they fell well under the 600 feet allowed.

Sergeant Lance Bourgeois and Officer Jimmy Dunaway were dispatched to Vessel’s residence and he was not at home. He was located on S. Ringer Street handing out flyers to residents. Officers advised Vessel of the State Statute prohibiting him from having any political signage less than 600 feet from a polling station. Vessel claimed he had not done any such thing, and Sergeant Bourgeois informed him that he had photographic evidence and measurements.

Vessel asked to know which polling stations he had been near and when told, he replied, “Wait a minute. This ain’t even an election year.”

Officer Dunaway then wrote Councilman Vessel a summons and all political signage was placed into evidence.