St. John under new leadership

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2010



EDGARD – Under a continuing theme of service to the people of St. John the Baptist Parish, Natalie Robottom was sworn in as parish president during a Parish Council meeting here Tuesday.

Standing before a packed courtroom at the St. John Courthouse, Robottom spoke optimistically about cooperation between parish administrators and council members.

“This will be a great opportunity to speak positively about St. John Parish,” Robottom said. “I am truly humbled you have chosen me to serve.”

Prior to taking the oath of office, which was administered by St. John Parish Judges J. Sterling Snowdy, Madeline Jasmine and Mary Hotard Becnel, the Rev. Neil Bernard, pastor of the New Wine Christian Fellowship in LaPlace, gave the invocation. Bernard then handed Robottom and each council member a small towel, a symbol of the biblical story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and said he hopes Robottom will keep it on her desk as a reminder of her pledge to serve.

Toward the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Robottom announced the selection of some key members of her administration, including her chief administrative officer, Marie Brown-Mercadel, chief of staff for the State Department of Social Services. Robottom said the two worked together on several projects during Robottom’s time at the state Capitol.

Robottom also named Angelic Sutherland, a LaPlace attorney, as an assistant to the parish president who will chair the parish’s committee on government ethics and also provide legal assistance to several parish departments. Sutherland worked as a legal aide to Robottom when she was CAO under former Parish President Nickie Monica,

Robottom said Pat McTopy, who had been serving as acting parish president, would remain as chief financial officer until May 31.

She also said acting CAO Buddy Boe, one of her opponents in the primary election, would stay on as her communications director until the end of the month.

Robottom said she has scheduled several meetings with her entire administration and said she is creating a Presidential Advisory Committee to address specific services and issues in the parish, including governmental ethics, the fire departments, economic development and jobs, recreation, arts and culture, public works, health and human services, finance and planning and zoning.

“This group will include representation from the council, people from my campaign staff, as well as other members of the public,” Robottom said. “I plan to have them come back to me in 60 days with a report on where the parish stands and with whatever recommendations they may have.”

Robottom closed the meeting by thanking the council members and acknowledging the ongoing support of the outgoing administration.

“I look forward to re-establishing many relationships,” she said.