LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The Chairman of the Lafayette Parish Council is speaking out about what will happen to Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory’s position while he’s in rehab.
The mayor-president checked himself into rehab Monday for a possible alcohol addiction and PTSD. He will stay in the rehab facility for 21 days. Guillory made arrangements with the Lafayette city-parish attorney and the chief administrative officer to remain available and and continue to give direction on city-parish matters. The mayor-president is now asking for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry to give his opinion on whether or not Guillory should remain in power during his time in rehab.
In a letter to the attorney general, Guillory said he’d been advised that the chairs of the Lafayette Parish and city councils have either attempted or intend to attempt to appoint a member of their councils to act as interim mayor-president.
Lafayette Parish Chairman and Councilman A.B. Rubin says a decision has not yet been made. He says whether or not an interim mayor-president will be appointed is now in the hands of the attorney general. “Ever since he went into rehab, our main concern was his well being,” says Rubin.
According to the Lafayette City-Parish Charter, “When the mayor-president is absent from and unavailable to Lafayette Parish for more than 48 hours, their duties and powers can be appointed to a member of the city or parish council.” Rubin says they are looking into having a councilmember step into the role, as that’s what the charter says should happen. “Not that we wanted to take his position or anything like that. We just wanted to fulfill the charter as we understood the charter,” Rubin added.
After hearing the city and parish council chairmen were attempting to appoint an interim mayor-president, Josh Guillory sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Landry. What Guillory is hoping Landry can give an opinion on is what the word “unavailable” should mean in the charter. While the charter says an interim mayor-president can be appointed if Guillory is unavailable for more than 48 hours, Guillory argues he is available.
He says his CAO and city-parish attorney have 24-hour access to him, and he’s available through email, cell phone, and zoom. The mayor-president adds he’s able to review and sign documents, including executive orders, directives, contracts, resolutions, and ordinances.
Councilman Rubin says this is why the city and parish council and the mayor-president are at a standstill. “Unavailable is not defined in the charter properly. The thing about the term unavailable or any term, you put two lawyers in a room, and you’ll probably get five interpretations,” says Rubin.
Rubin says once the attorney general can give a clear definition on the word, they can move forward in deciding if Guillory can remain in power while in rehab. “I just want to make sure people understand that this is not a political move. We want to do what’s right for the community, really, and I can speak for the council as a whole,” Rubin added.
In his letter to the attorney general, Guillory also noted that in 2014, the city-parish attorney at the time gave his opinion on the issue when the then mayor-president was out of the state. The attorney said because the then mayor-president was available to Lafayette Parish through email and phone, he should still retain his powers and duties under the charter.
Again, whether or not Guillory will retain his power is up to Attorney General Jeff Landry. Landry has not yet responded to Guillory’s request for an opinion.