Could proposed amendment stop Ball mayoral candidate from office?

BALL, La. (KALB) - The fall election is just months away with a number of big races nationally and even here at home. One that’s in the spotlight is the race for Mayor of Ball.

It includes the incumbent, a new face and a familiar face as well. But if one of the candidates wins, could a proposed constitutional amendment force him out of office?

It's a big race for a small town. The Rapides Parish Town of Ball will be selecting its next mayor in the Fall. So far on the unofficial list is incumbent Neil Kavanagh, local businessman Gene Decker and former longtime Mayor Roy Hebron who served more than 24 years at the town's top position.

But it's Hebron’s past that's raising eyebrows, bringing with it uncertainty.

In 2011, Hebron was sentenced to four years in federal prison and ordered to pay $105,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to one count of defrauding FEMA of an estimated $320,000 in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav. Hebron was then released in 2015, but could a proposed constitutional amendment keep him from the town's top position?

Here's what we're talking about:

In the last state legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill that would bar convicted felons from running for office for five years after their release. It's a constitutional amendment meaning voters will decide on November 6, which just so happens to be the same day as the mayoral election.

So, if elected, would Hebron, who has only been out of prison for just under four years, have to step down if the constitutional amendment passes?

"It's on the same time I am, so I would be grandfathered in according to what the lawyers have told me and I feel the supreme court if anyone fights it will be thrown out again," said Hebron.

But one of his opponents feels differently.

"If you look at the last legislative special session, there are moves right now to reinstitute a constitutional amendment that would prohibit that,” said Kavanagh. “So we'll see what the state-wide vote will be on November sixth."

We reached out to the Louisiana Attorney General's office on if it would impact Hebron if he won and the amendment passes. They said they are unable to give out official opinions unless requested by an elected official. We also reached out to the author of the bill, Sen. Conrad Appel, he was unable to give us an answer to the specific question.

So, the issue could likely go to court.

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