Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Council forces Layrisson to choose: chief or sheriff

Council forces Layrisson to choose: chief or sheriff
Posted: Mar 12, 2018
Categories: Front Page, Headlines
Comments: 0
PONCHATOULA---Police Chief Bry Layrisson may be forced to choose between running for re-election or running for sheriff--almost two years before either office was scheduled to be on the ballot.

In a move Monday night that would force the Chief to pick one or the other, the Ponchatoula Council approved a resolution to move their municipal elections to the same time as the Governor's race--and more important, locally, at least, to the same time as the elections for Parish wide elected officials, like Parish President, Clerk of Court, and Sheriff.

Layrisson, son of former Sheriff Ed Layrisson, has so far demurred on the question of whether or not he will run for sheriff himself in 2019.

Monday night the Ponchatoula City Council narrowly approved a resolution to join in Rep. Robby Carter's House Bill 317 which would move municipal elections to the same time as the Gubernatorial primaries, but the change was not a welcome one with two council members nor with the Chief of Police, who called out Mayor Bob Zabbia for what he described as another case of "dirty politics."

In a 3-2 vote, the Council approved Zabbia's proposal to move the town elections, which are typically held the spring immediately following the Governor's election, to the same gubernatorial election period. Under the proposal, town officials would not take office until the following July, in the same way that the Sheriff and the Clerk of Court do.

Council members Melvin Toomer and Virgil Sandifer voted against the change. Also public in his opposition was Ponchatoula Police Chief Bry Layrisson, who is also elected on that city ballot. Layrisson addressed the council and called out Zabbia, saying the move was being orchestrated by the Mayor.

Layrisson called the move "dirty politics," comparing it to two other issues that drew public ire--a Ponchatoula city allocation to help pay for a flag pole at the I-12 interchange in Hammond and continuing to fund the 7th Ward Marshal after reports surfaced that Marshal Pat Farris was taking home much more than he campaigned he would accept in pay.

"The Mayor is trying to play dirty politics," Layrisson said, accusing Zabbia of being in league with the "Edwards dynasty."

Layrisson said that until the meeting agenda notice was posted on Thursday, only one councilman knew what the resolution intended to do.

"Five of our seven city officials were in the dark" on the matter, Layrisson said, accusing Zabbia of "secretly" trying to move town elections.

The resolution will be forwarded to Rep. Robby Carter, who serves the mid-parish area of Tangipahoa, and is expected to become part of his House Bill 317, which will allow any Lawrason Act municipality in a parish having a population between 118,000-125,000 to hold their town elections in the fall at the same time as the Governor's race. The bill has been assigned to the Committee on House and Governmental Affairs but has not been scheduled yet for hearings in Baton Rouge.

The bill would have to pass the Legislature before the municipalities would be able to introduce ordinances to officially make the move to change their election dates.