Lawsuit likely, recall elections possible

Grassroots campaign in Section 16 lease issue grows

 

By Raymond L. Daye
Although a new lease structure has been approved and most camp site lessees have made their deposits, the fight with the Avoyelles School Board over the 16th Section properties is not over.
 
Approximately 60 “concerned citizens” met on April 20 to formulate a plan of action to continue the battle with the School Board -- mostly, but not completely, about the 16th Section camp lease issue.
 
The meeting was closed to the press, but meeting organizer Ryan Juneau of Hessmer agreed to discuss the matter in general terms. He said he could not go into details about an action plan at this time.However, Juneau said the general consensus of those attending the meeting was that additional legal action should be taken against the School Board.
 
The idea of recall elections against most or all of the nine board members also seemed to have wide appeal at the meeting.
Juneau said there could be recall efforts in all districts.
 
“We will start at the front door and sweep all the way to the back door,” Juneau said.
 
Group has grown
The citizens’ group began on Facebook and has grown, Juneau said. “It’s becoming more organized. It’s not just camp owners.”
 
Juneau said he does not lease a 16th Section camp, but his father and several friends do.
 
Buddy Dauzat, who lives in the Spring Bayou community and has a 16th Section camp on Spring Bayou, also attended the meeting. He said he was “amazed at the level of support shown at the meeting.”
 
Dauzat also said the concern has expanded beyond the 16th Section issue, although the board’s perceived heavy-handed, take-it-or-leave-it attitude is what prompted many citizens -- camp owners and those who never set foot on 16th Section property alike -- to conclude that it may be time for a change of board members.
 
“This is definitely not over,” Dauzat said.
 
Board elections were last fall. Seven of the nine board members were re-elected to four-year terms when nobody qualified to run against them. 
 
Two board members attracted opposition. Lizzy Ned defeated Brenda Blackman-Dawson -- sister of board member Shelia Blackman-Dupas. Carlos Mayeux was defeated by Christopher Lacour.
 
State voters approved term limits for school board members in 2012, limiting a person to three consecutive four-year terms. The term limit went into effect with the 2014 election and is not retroactive, meaning current board members could serve 12 more years if re-elected in 2018 and 2022. They would be ineligible to run for re-election in 2026.

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