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St. Martinville council seeking court's decision on mayor's veto power over part-time position change

Posted at 10:31 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 23:57:50-04

The St. Martinville City Council will seek a court's decision on whether Mayor Melinda Mitchell has veto power concerning an ordinance on making her position part time.

At a meeting on Monday, the council approved the ordinance to amend the city charter to provide term limits to elected officials. Following that amendment, they passed that the mayor position be part time but the Mayor vetoed.

The council then authorized the city attorney to get a court determination on whether the mayor has veto power.

"I think it's the right move, I think we can press on. We're not the deciding body, we have another step. I'm good with what ever happens after this," councilman Craig Prosper said.

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St. Martinville Mayor Melinda Mitchell has scheduled a town hall meeting so she can hear what the people have to say about a plan that would make the mayor's position part-time.

In September, the St. Martinville City Council voted to amend the city's special charter, adding term limits for all elected city officials and making the mayor's position a part-time job.

Under the proposed changes, the mayor and council members would be limited to three consecutive terms. The mayoral office would become a part-time position, with a salary of $30,000 annually, the Daily Iberian reported.

At that meeting, Mitchell vetoed the change. She said the city's charter is silent on the issue of veto, and the law says when the charter is silent the town must follow the Lawrason Act. She said she expects a challenge to that veto from the council.

However, she said she believes that St. Martinville deserves and requires a full-time mayor.

"This is a 24-7 job, whether it's me or somebody else. It's 365 days a year," Mitchell said. "It's not about the pay, it's about whether you want to be effective, efficient and successful."

Mitchell said she's set a town hall for October 17 so that the residents of the town can have their say about this issue. She hasn't finalized a location, but says she's looking for a location that will allow for social distancing and masks.

St. Martinville's charter does allow the council to make changes without a vote of the people. According to the Iberian's story, Mitchell has already twice tried to get the council to vote to revoke the city's charter, instead reverting to government under the Lawrason Act. In recent months, she has called for such a move publicly in town halls and in radio interviews. She has also lobbied for support from legislators behind the scenes, saying that she needs "more power."

Read more here.

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