Avoyelles Parish petition to change from police jury to home rule charter goes before judge

In Avoyelles Parish, an effort to change the parish’s form of government has now made its way before a judge.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 12:48 PM CDT
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AVOYELLES PARISH, La. (KALB) - In Avoyelles Parish, an effort to change the parish’s form of government has now made its way before a judge.

On Friday morning Judge William Bennett ruled in favor of Glenn Goudeau, one of the organizers behind the people of Avoyelles Parish petition to change the parish government from a police jury to a home rule charter. Avoyelles Parish became the first parish in the history of the state to ever petition to change the form of government.

That petition was submitted in March of this year to the Registrar of Voters, Gloria Moreau, who certified that the petition met the 10% threshold required to be successful. That meant the APPJ had to call for the first election in the process, which would be electing a commission that will write the home rule charter. It wasn’t until May 9 that the police jury voted 5 to 4 not to hold that election. That’s when Godeau sued. Goudeau’s attorney Danny Garrett argues that law requires the jury to call the election since the registrar has certified the petition. But the police jury’s attorney argues that petition is actually invalid — saying it’s missing the required ward and precinct in many places.

That was the dispute on Friday though — this challenge to the petition out of order in the legal process. It wasn’t until Thursday that Registrar Gloria Moreau was sued over the petition. Judge Bennett argued that a challenge to the petition should have come first, but since that didn’t happen, he has to go off of what he has, which is a certified petition. Because of that, he ruled in favor of Godeau, which will require the police jury to call the election.

Now, if suing the registrar is successful and the petition is found to be invalid, Bennett believes the election would be called off. But again, this is new ground. This has never happened in the state. The key here is that there is a deadline. The deadline for calling an October 11 election is July 11.

We will provide updates when we know more about what is next in the process.

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