Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment: Threats of violence should be called out

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment asked the public to call out threats of violence during the Ascension Parish Council meeting held at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment speaks during the July 1 council meeting at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

"Under no circumstance whatsoever are threats and threats of violence or violence itself acceptable under any circumstance," Cointment said during the President's Report. "This is Ascension Parish. We're better than that. Our people are better than that. I'm asking the public, as we journey forward, if you see this type of activity, call it out. Put that fire out before it becomes something someone will regret later on."

Cointment released a statement through his Facebook page just before the meeting. 

"I ask that moving forward everyone please be passionate, but respectful. We have a democratic process in place for a reason," he stated in the post.

He said threats in any form should not be tolerated, especially if aimed at spouses or children.

Cointment recognized that elected officials knew they were signing up for a difficult job, but threats should not be endured.

As he said, recent developments have brought a charged environment around parish politics. Earlier in the week, Cointment was removed as the head of the East Ascension Drainage Commission. East side council members, who serve on the commission, voted to oust the president, establish a Chief Executive Officer position, and hire Bill Roux LLC as interim CEO.

The heated meeting brought a packed audience to the courthouse in Gonzales. Many of them spoke during public-comment portions.

Prior to that development, the previous council meeting was tense as the council decided to implement a nine-month moratorium on new developments. Cointment's administration had pushed for a 12-month halt.

In his report in Donaldsonville, Cointment said "these are very charged and controversial times."

"I don't know if I've ever witnessed anything like this before," he said.

People should not be in fear to leave their families and go about their lives, Cointment added.

"It's OK to be passionate. I debate and disagree with everyone up here, including my staff. I'm as an emotional and passionate person as anyone would meet. But violence is never an option, and we're better than that," he said.

Ascension Parish Council members Alvin "Coach" Thomas, Joel Robert, and Corey Orgeron are shown during the July 1 meeting at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

Also during the meeting:

-- Martin McConnell, who serves as the parish's communications director, said the parish has been branching out to Instagram and Twitter, in addition to Facebook, to reach a broader audience.

Rae’Ven Jackson was hired as community outreach director. She will be directing social media communication and will work with Ascension21 to record stories and report on happenings in the parish. 

She is a resident and native of the parish, who graduated from Dutchtown High School and Southern University. Her experience includes anchoring for KTVE-TV in Monroe and reporting for WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge.

-- The council ratified Chief Financial Officer Patrick Goldsmith.

"I'm happy to get started," Goldsmith said. "It's been a whirlwind."

He will take over for longtime CFO Gwen LeBlanc, who recently retired.

Upon his ratification, the council and audience applauded.