St. Tammany voters express ballot shock over 9 propositions

COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - Early voting in St. Tammany Parish has been described as "heavy," with some voters surprised by nine propositions to change the Parish Charter.

While some elected officials say they will streamline government, there is major opposition to at least one measure.

Early voters streamed into the parish voting station on Koop Drive to consider more than just who will be the next governor or sheriff.

"It was a shock to go in and see that many. I had no idea," said early voter Jackie Dantin

Tammany voters are also deciding nine propositions to change the parish charter. Number 1 would clarify rules dealing with cooperative endeavor agreements, Number 2 calls for automatic charter reviews every 15 years, and Number 3 would limit discussion at parish council meetings to agenda items.

"People come up to the mike pretending to speak about one thing, and then wound up speaking about something else," said Council Chairman Richard Tanner.

Proposition 4 redefines the length of time an emergency order remains in effect, while  Number 5, the most controversial, allows the parish president and council to hire their own attorneys and not rely on the district attorney.

"It took nine months to come up with these. They worked it hard," said Parish President Pat Brister.

Brister said recent events with former DA Walter Reed play up the need for a separate legal department.

"It was very difficult, under threat, we did things a certain way, or he would withdraw the credentials of my legal counsel, and he had the authority to do that. We really had discussions about that," Brister said.

But Reed's successor is opposed. He says the president and council have already hired their own counsel, and he says his office is better equipped to manage those attorneys.

"There is an economy of scale in the DA's office that already has a large amount of lawyers at its disposal," said St Tammany District Attorney Warren Montgomery.

There are four more propositions for St. Tammany voters to consider. Number 6 would give the parish president more power to appoint or remove employees at will, 7 outlines the duties of the chief administrative officer, 8 requires the parish president to submit personnel policies to the council for approval, and 9 requires the parish president to submit the budget to the council by its October meeting.

Voters are advised to go online before they go into the booth.

You can see a list of the propositions on the St. Tammany Parish Council Website.

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