Tregre Withdraws Plans For Third Term

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / January 23, 1998

HAHNVILLE – A third consecutive term for St. Charles Parish PresidentChris Tregre looked far less likely after Monday’s meeting of the St.Charles Parish Council.

Pledged votes vanished in less than two days following a flurry of phonecalls to council members, Tregre said, after withdrawing ordinances tocall a May 2 special election to consider the idea.

In a brief statement during the meeting, Tregre said, “After severaltelephone conversations with some members of the Council today, I feelvery certain that the two-thirds vote necessary to place this questionbefore the general public will not be forthcoming tonight.”

After the withdrawal, Tregre’s immediate predecessor, Albert Laque,smiled and said of the vanished votes, “I guess he can count.”

Tregre commented afterward, “The issue was to put the question beforethe public. Now, some councilmen will say they weren’t allowed to vote onthe matter, but I personally spoke with these guys and if I don’t have thevote, why waste an hour of the meeting?”Tregre said he would not do anything to initiate a citizen petition drive toforce the issue on a ballot but said if someone did begin the process, hewould “work with them.”

On the petition idea, Tregre stated: “If this issue is brought up by petitionin the future, it will be at the wishes of members of the general publicand for reasons based on their wishes. I will not ask anyone to undertakesuch a task on my behalf, but if they do so, I will be willing to assist themin their efforts.”

Before Tregre had the chance to ask for the withdrawal, ParishCouncilman Brian Champagne moved to have the Parish Council removedfrom the proposed election call. However, no one seconded the motion.Champagne said later, “I was against it from the beginning,” andcontinued, “that’s part of what makes America great – there’s alwayssomebody who feels they can do a better job.”

The same proposition, if approved by the voters, would have also allowedParish Council members Champagne, Barry Minnich, Ellis Alexander, CurtisJohnson and Dickie Duhe to seek another term.

Said Champagne, “I’m not seeking a third term. I don’t know why I went fora second. It’s not doing anything for me.”The proposition stated, in part, “No person who shall have served threeconsecutive complete terms for the office of Parish President followingthe October 19, 1991 election shall be eligible to serve a fourthconsecutive term for such office. The Parish President shall be a qualifiedvoter of the Parish and shall have resided within the Parish for a period offive years prior to his assuming office.”The possibility of a petition drive would face an uphill battle, accordingto figures supplied by Ruby Reaves of Luling, a long-time Tregre supporter.According to Reaves, with a 54.5 percent turnout in the 1991 electionwhich established term limits in the parish’s home rule charter, 69percent supported term limits for the parish president, a total of 8,815votes. A total of 71 percent approved term limits for the Parish Council,9,270 votes altogether.

However, in the intervening years, some voters have died or moved away,other voters are new to the parish rolls and some of those earlier votersmay have since changed their minds.St. Charles Parish had 23,907 registered voters in 1991 and now has29,482, a 23.3 percent increase.

Earlier, Tregre said he had “some things I’d like to see concluded,”including the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee and pump stations forthe East Bank Hurricane Protection Levee projects.

“With three terms, I’d still be limited,” he added. “I am a proponent oflimited terms, but eight years is not enough.”

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