Four Metro Council Members Announce Plans to Abstain in Vote to Replace Amoroso

Metro council members LaMont Cole (D) district 7, Chauna Banks (D) district 2, Erika Green (D) district 5, Donna Collins-Lewis (D) district 6, released the following statement: “Council members Banks, Cole, Green and Lewis have made a collaborative decision to abstain from voting to fill the District 8 vacancy on the Metro-Council. We will make no further comment on this matter at this time.”The metro council is set to appoint a replacement for Councilman Buddy Amoroso (R) district 8, who was killed in a bicycle accident on June 30th. According to state law, “when a vacancy occurs in the membership of a city or parish school board, the remaining members of the board shall within twenty days declare that the vacancy has occurred and proceed to appoint a person who meets the qualifications of the office to fill the vacancy.” As a result, the metro council is set to have a special meeting following their scheduled zoning meeting on July 18, 2018, to pick a replacement for AmorosoHistorically, when a council member has died the council has looked to the spouse of the member to see if either the spouse would like to serve the remainder of the term, or if the spouse has a recommendation for the replacement. Martha Jane Tassin was appointed to the council back in 2001 after the death of her husband, Mike Tassin who served as councilman for district 6 for two terms. Martha Jane Tassin would go on to serve district 6 for two terms after that, until she was defeated by Donna Collins-Lewis back in 2008. Collins-Lewis was the first black council member to serve as council member for district 6. There have been references that the council may consider going the same route with Amoroso’s appointment, but the advantage of making the decision rest with the 5 black council members for the first time in history. When Mike Tassin died back in 2001 there were only 4 black democrats as members of the metro council, which gave the advantage to conservatives who had at the time 7 white republican members of the council. Which meant the chances of appointing anyone other than Tassin were mute. The council could make the decision to appoint without any of the black democrats support, because they had 7 votes. To make the appointment to the council, there must be a majority vote. Currently Councilwoman Tara Wicker (D) district 10, is the only black democrat not included in the press release sent to all Baton Rouge media outlets. For the metro council to make an appointment for the vacancy they must have 7 votes. Republicans currently only have 6 votes due to the vacant seat. The move by Cole, Banks, Green, and Collins-Lewis suggest they would like to see Governor Edwards who is a democrat make the appointment. Unless Tara Wicker (D) district 10, joins the republicans on the council to make an appointment at the July 18th meeting, the appointment will be made by Governor John Bel Edwards, who is a democrat. According to state law, “If a vacancy is not filled within the time specified in RS 18:602 Subsection A, B, or C of this Section, the governor shall fill the vacancy.”Executives in government historically have appointed someone from their own political party when given the opportunity to make an appointment. Baton Rouge will soon see one of two options play out. Councilwoman Tara Wicker will join the black democrats and abstain from the vote, which would send the appointment to the governor. Or Wicker will join with the majority white republican members of the council and make an appointment from the council. If Wicker joins the black democrats on the metro council and abstains from the vote, Baton Rouge could possibly have a 9 month period with a racially and politically balanced Metro Council until the special election in March of 2019, when voters have the opportunity to pick the replacement for the vacant seat. If the appointment is sent to Governor John Bel Edwards who is a democrat.