Ascension Parish Council approves appointments

Michael Tortorich
The Ascension Parish Courthouse in Donaldsonville.
Photo by Michael Tortorich.

The Ascension Parish Council ratified Parish President Clint Cointment’s eight appointments during the Thursday night meeting.

The appointments included: John Diez to Chief Administrative Officer, Cinnamon McKey to Parish Secretary, Gwen LeBlanc to Chief Financial Officer, Ron Savoy to Public Works Director, Jerome Fournier to Planning Director, Randy Watts to Human Resources Director, Kyle Rogers to General Manager of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, and Ken Dawson to Infrastructure Director. 

Gavin Fleming, who was on the agenda as an appointment for Utilities Director, did not go up for vote.

The parish’s CAO, Diez, has worked as a business development director for Volkert Engineering in Baton Rouge, joining the company in 2018. According to his resume, he served as a client liaison for all Louisiana projects performed by Volkert.

Diez also served as political director and lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, known as LABI. During David Vitter's run for Governor, Diez was deputy campaign manager.

He also owned Magellan Strategies, where he conducted more than 200,000 survey research interviews for political clients and policy groups.

LeBlanc has worked in parish government continuously since 1973. Her major accomplishments through the years include enrollment of all eligible employees into the Parochial Retirement System, assisting in creating the Sales and Use Tax Authority in 1991, and assisting in creating sales tax districts.

Savoy has experience dating back to 2002 with East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1. He previously served as interim Director of Drainage.

Fournier has directed Planning and Development since 2016. He has more than 30 years of experience as an urban and regional planner, as well as a public finance consultant.

Watts was the Human Resources Director for the Ascension Parish School Board from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Principal of East Ascension High School for five years. Watts was a teacher and baseball coach at East Ascension from 1990-2002.

Rogers has been General Manager at LDEC since April 2016. He previously worked as Director of Operations for SMG from 2006 to 2016.

Dawson has served as interim Infrastructure Director since 2012. He previously served as CAO.

Dawson also served as West Feliciana Parish President from 2008 to 2010.

McKey has been the Parish Council Secretary since 2012. Former Parish President Tommy Martinez originally appointed her. She was an executive assistant for seven years before the appointment.

In a separate matter during the meeting, Cointment asked Diez to give an update during the President’s Report.

Diez told the Council that the pandemic has revealed the importance of organizing the data available to those in parish government. 

Diez said the parish is data rich and information poor” as data silos” are spread out and unorganized.

It really makes it hard to make decisions,” he said.

Diez suggested looking at local governments in neighboring areas for ideas to organize.

He presented an organizational chart, briefly drilling down on the duties of each department head.