Parish Council might ask term limit repeal

Deidre Cruse

The Iberville Parish Council by a 9-4 vote Tuesday night has set a public hearing for May 19 to discuss term limits. The measure would repeal the term limits that will leave more than half of them, along with Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr., without their elected positions after 2012

The Home Rule Charter that voters approved in January 1997 included a three-term limit for the parish president and the 13 council members. (The initial two-year term under the charter was exempted.)

Ourso said several members of the council had asked him about amending the charter to repeal the provision, and his office has prepared an ordinance for introduction.

It would take a new public vote to make the change. This would be the first proposed to the public since the charter was approved. A time for the referendum is as yet uncertain.

“They asked me about it,” the parish president said. “I don’t have a problem with it...Let the people decide whether they want term limits.”

Ourso said he favored revoking the term-limit provision.

“I had some mixed reviews about it when I first took office here,” he said. “I thought it was the right thing. As I carried on in office, I had some questions in my mind. I think this form of government has proved itself. We have made some noticeable changes in the last 11 years.”

If voters pass the amendment, Ourso said he did not know if he would run for his office again.

“I have other options in the private sector,” he said “I really like government, but I also like what has been built up here by this government,” indicating the council and himself.

“I think term limits is every four years,” he said. “If we don’t do our job, vote us out.”

If the amendment goes to the voters, Ourso said he hoped people would look at the track record of the charter government, not at personalities.

He said he has a list of priorities to pass on to his successor – fighting for a Mississippi River bridge here, keeping the hospital open and improving education.

“If the people vote for term limits, then we all ride off into the sunset. I have no animosity one way or the other.”

If the public opts for term limits, Ourso said he thought they should apply to all elected parish officials, not just the Parish Council offices.