'We have to take our parish back': Ascension Parish recall groups meet in Gonzales

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
The crowd listens to speakers during the July 11 meeting held at the VFW Hall on Churchpoint Road.

Gonzales Memorial VFW Post 3693's hall was the site of an informational meeting for citizens interested in Ascension Parish Council recalls.

Held at 5 p.m. July 11, the groups discussed plans to pursue recalls of six council members - Corey Orgeron, Teri Casso, Aaron Lawler, Dempsey Lambert, Dal Waguespack, and John Cagnolatti.

Brenda Whitney was among the speakers who addressed the crowd at the facility along Churchpoint Road. She is an administrator for a popular Facebook group called "What's Going On in Ascension Parish."

"We have to take our parish back. They basically have let us know that they don't care, but we care and we're gong to let them know we care," Whitney told the crowd.

She told the Weekly Citizen the turnout for the meeting was both "overwhelming and encouraging."

"Our core group needed to see how much citizens support there was behind this; and tremendous support was evident today. There is still preliminary work to complete, but the actual filing is in sight," she said.

Ascension Parish Council members stand at the beginning of the meeting held July 1 at the courthouse in Donaldsonville. Pictured from left are Alvin "Coach" Thomas, Joel Robert, Corey Orgeron, Dempsey Lambert, Chase Melancon, Teri Casso, Aaron Lawler, and John Cagnolatti.

Organizers also pointed out the parking issues due to the high turnout. One of the organizers, Sonny Edwards, said 348 chairs were put out and people were standing along the wall.

"We are fed up and we are not going to take it anymore," Edwards said to the crowd.

The interest in organizing recalls boiled over after the East Ascension Drainage Commission, which is comprised of all eastbank council members, voted June 28 to oust Parish President Clint Cointment and install a Chief Executive Officer over drainage. Bill Roux LLC was approved as interim CEO.

During the Sunday evening meeting, some of the recall chairs addressed the crowd.

"Our lives begin to end the day we stay silent about things that matter," one said, invoking the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

Political Action Committees have already been set up for some of the recalls. 

Whitney said locations are "in the works" where signing of recalls can be arranged.

The groups are planning on going door-to-door and networking as the campaigns kick off.

"We need you. Please help us," Whitney said at the conclusion.

Five of the council members released a joint statement July 9 addressing recent changes. In it, they pledged to work with the parish president toward compromise.