In The News › Chamber Connection: Important issues on the ballot

Chamber Connection: Important issues on the ballot

By Lacey Toledano

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

November 11, 2015

Typically voter turnout is highest in a presidential election. According to a recent NOLA.com article and Registrar of Voters Dwayne Wall, turnout for the primary election on Nov. 4 was 52.5 percent in St. Tammany Parish, slighter higher than the statewide number. Even so, that’s only half of all eligible voters.

For many, it has been a somewhat painful election season, with negative campaigning clouding the real issues, the real qualifications of candidates, leaving voters indecisive. But this general election is a very important race and we encourage everyone to vote. As the leading Voice of Business in St. Tammany, we remain committed to providing our members and all voters with the information they need to know to make informed decisions in the voter’s booth.

While runoffs for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Sheriff and Clerk of Court are front of mind, many in our parish may not know is that there are also nine proposed amendments to the St. Tammany Parish Home Rule Charter. And some that do know, have asked us, how should I vote? What does the Chamber recommend?

After careful review by our Board of Directors, we are in support of all propositions but one, Proposition 2, which requires a charter review at least once every 15 years by an 11-member committee, including at least two council members, appointed in a manner to be determined by the Parish Council. Recommendations of the charter committee would be submitted to the Parish Council for approval and then put to a vote.

As stated by the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR), “while mandatory periodic review of the charter is important, the proposed amendment could undermine the integrity of future charter amendment efforts because the proposed charter advisory committee would lack independence from the Parish Council.”

Also, the proposition calls for a committee not a commission, and the inclusion of two-parish council members as voting members on the committee. Even the Home Rule Charter committee recommended that the review happen every ten years and be conducted by a special charter commission. Visit our governmental affairs web portal at standupsttammany.org for the complete explanation of each proposition presented by our partners at BGR.

Reminder: the Parish Council term limits issue will not be on the ballot until the March 2016 election.

Finally, City of Covington residents will vote on a one-cent sales tax extension and re-dedication. This is not a new tax. It was first approved in 1982. If approved this time around, the re-dedication will lift spending restrictions and the extension will allow for the City to fund long-term infrastructure and capital projects through the purchase of bonds. Neither our Governmental Affairs Committee nor Board has offered a recommendation on this.

Please don’t forget that every vote does count. We urge you to exercise this freedom in this and every election. Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 21.

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