ST. MARTINVILLE, La. — (KLFY) Whether St. Martinville is moving its mayor from a full-time to a part-time position is now up to the courts. The city council passed the vote Monday evening, but the current mayor vetoed it.
Mayor Melinda Mitchell said there’s no way anyone in her position can be part-time and effective, so she’s seeking veto power to reverse the council’s vote.
“I don’t think there’s been a veto in the history of St. Martinville,” challenged District 1 Councilman Mike Fuselier.
Mayor Melinda Mitchell replied, “Maybe in the history of St. Martinville the mayor didn’t have a reason to veto .”
It was back and forth in much of the conversation regarding the mayor’s position. A veto is the only way to prevent future mayors of St. Martinville from being part-time, and an effort to determine whether the mayor has that power passed Monday night.
“We’re not arguing about facts,” City Attorney Allan Durand explained. “The facts are that the mayor exercised a veto and the question does she have one or not. All the judge has to do is look at the Larason Act and our charter and decide if she has one or not.”
City Councilman and Mayor Pro Temp Craig Prosper argued besides the city’s last three mayors, the St. Martinville has always had a part-time mayor. He said St. Martinville should go in the direction of Jeanerette who recently made its mayor position part-time.
Prosper told Mitchell, “You run to help people. You run because you want to give back to your community You don’t run to line your pockets. You want to line your pockets, you run somewhere else.”
Mayor Mitchell said even if her position becomes part-time, the demands of the work she’s doing remains the same.
“In order to be effective and efficient as a mayor in the city of St. Martinville, whether it’s me or someone else in this seat in 2022, they need to be a full-time mayor,” Mitchell stated.
But the census shows St. Martinville’s population is decreasing and has shrunk by 25% in the last 20 years, and the majority of the city council wants the position part-time again.
“There’s no real reason to have it for a small community that has no growth at all which has taken 20 steps backwards to keep going in this direction,” argued Prosper.
“I don’t have to prove anything to you,” Mayor Mitchell told Prosper. “I will continue to be a full-time mayor with or without you. The people have elected me for a job, and I’m going to continue to do it whether you like it or not.”
The city charter is silent on the veto power and what it takes to override it, so it’s up to the court to provide a judgment before the city sends the charter change to the governor to sign.
In addition to voting to make the mayor position part-time, the council also introduced term limits to their charter so that elected officials cannot hold a position for longer than 3 consecutive terms.