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Thomas named Tangipahoa Parish Government's first CAO

Thomas named Tangipahoa Parish Government's first CAO
Posted: Apr 25, 2016
Categories: Front Page, Headlines
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AMITE---Shelby “Joe” Thomas, Jr. has been appointed as Tangipahoa’s first Chief Administrative Officer in Parish Government.

Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller recommended Thomas for the job and his appointment was ratified by the unanimous Tangipahoa Parish Council Monday night.

It marks the first time in the nearly 30 years since the Home Rule form of government was instituted that Tangipahoa Parish enacted that provision of the charter.

Thomas volunteered as co-chairman of Miller’s transition team. He also volunteered his time, sharing his logistics expertise during the March 2016 flood event.

A lifelong resident of Tangipahoa Parish, Thomas is a retired Master Sergeant in the US Army where he served on active duty for 20 years, with 18 of those years assigned to the Louisiana Army National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force, working as a liaison to the Louisiana State Police Narcotics section.

He served a tour in Iraq, where he was named the Battalion’s Operations Sergeant.

Following his military career, Thomas worked in private sector, where he is President of Thomas Land and Petroleum. He has also served in the leadership of several local boards and organizations.

Miller described the CAO position as a crucial part of parish government. He said Thomas’ role will allow the Parish President the flexibility to promote the parish for economic development, and to work with the Legislature to improve our parish. Miller said it’s one more piece of the puzzle to “make Tangipahoa Parish the very best in the state.”

Thomas will earn $80,000 annually in the position. While the CAO’s post is new to Parish Government, Miller said his team has already consolidated several positions and reorganized the personnel needs at a savings of just under two percent of what was budgeted in employee costs for the 2016 fiscal year.

Councilman Lionell Wells, who questioned where the funding for the new position would be derived during a council meeting two weeks ago, said Monday that he was more than satisfied in how the administration had reorganized the staff, adding the charter-mandated CAO post, and saving the parish money in the overall budget.

Wells said he was impressed with Thomas’ credentials, a statement that was echoed by several councilmen, including Carlo Bruno and Council President Bobby Cortez.

Bruno said he was especially pleased the parish had seen fit to move forward with the recommendation of last year’s Home Rule Charter Commission, who urged the creation of a CAO for the parish.

Bruno said that while the previous administration was not agreeable to establish the post, the charter clearly outlines the advantages to having a true second-in-command in parish government.

Councilman Harry Lavine, who served as a parish manager prior to the enactment of the Home Rule Charter, said the appointment of a CAO was a “long time coming,” and he applauded Miller’s choice, saying Thomas was well-qualified for the post.

Councilman Trent Forrest said he, too, was impressed with Thomas’ bonafides, and Councilman Louis “Nick” Joseph said Thomas will do a good job for the parish. Joseph and Thomas spent much of Monday morning visiting Independence Elementary School, where they represented parish government and offered encouragement to local students who began their state-mandated standardized testing this week.

Councilman Buddy Ridgel, who served on both the former Police Jury form of government and on the Parish Council, said that he has seen firsthand the importance of having a government administrator through his work with the City of Hammond, where he served with several through the years. He said he thinks the CAO position will be a plus for Tangipahoa Parish.

Joseph made the motion to approve the creation of the position, with Ridgel offering the second to the motion. All nine of the council members present voted in favor of it, with only Councilman Jim Bailey absent due to illness.
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