Mary Sue Gulotta appointed interim mayor amidst controversial decision, Waterfront Park renamed

Andrew Green
Mary Sue Gulotta, center, takes the oath of office as Plaquemine's new interim mayor administered by city attorney Phil Canova at the Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday, September 22, 2015.

In a heated decision, the Plaquemine Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night appointed the widow of the former mayor Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta, Mary Sue Gulotta, as the city’s interim mayor.

            A packed house filled Plaquemine City Hall divided in support of Mayor Pro Tem Oscar Mellion and Mary Sue Gulotta.

            An outcry of several attendees asked for the Board’s support in selecting Mellion as interim mayor until the end of term on December 31, 2016.  The board voted 5-1 in favor of appointing Gulotta’s wife to serve as mayor until the next election in November 2016.

            Selectman Jimmie Randle, Jr., asked for a motion to nominate Mellion but the motion failed due to lack of a second.  Randle then voted in favor of Mary Sue when a motion was called to nominate her for the position.

            According to city spokesperson Ellie Hebert, speaking for Mary Sue Gulotta, said, “She believes Tony would want her to complete his term and some projects that he was working on.  And she wants to work with the Board of Selectmen and residents to unify the city and move forward, as Tony had when he was mayor.”

            “It was no secret to anyone that I wanted to be mayor,” Mellion said in a report with The Advocate.  “But if that’s what it takes to move the city forward then so be it.  I want to see the city prosper, and I’m going to do everything I can to support the new mayor.”

            Mellion is running for the position of Chief of Police for the City of Plaquemine in the upcoming Oct. 24 election.

            As part of the outcry of support of selecting Mellion as interim mayor, Rev. Therman E. Arnold said, “There’s a movement for not what’s black or what’s white, but what’s right.  Black people in particular have been oppressed for too long. 

“He’s (Mellion) done a lot of good for a lot of people, and he’s done a lot of bad for a lot of people, but that’s normal.  There’s no God-given reason why Oscar shouldn’t be mayor of Plaquemine.”

After Mary Sue Gulotta was selected to become interim mayor, Oscar Mellion addressed her saying, “I do hope you have the city at heart, as I know your husband would have.  We’re going to be looking at you as a leader and we’re going to hold you accountable.”

According to the City Charter, the mayor pro tem assumes some of the duties of the mayor upon the death of the mayor until the board of selectmen appoints an interim mayor.  The board must appoint an interim mayor within 20 days.  If they fail to do so, the governor appoints an interim mayor. 

According to Hebert, the city has traditionally offered the position of a city official to their spouse.  When Tony’s father “Tiger Joe” Gulotta died while serving as selectman, his wife, Etta Lee, was offered the position and she took it.

In a less heated debate, the board unanimously adopted a resolution to rename the Waterfront Park to Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park.

Selectman Lindon “Lin” Rivet, Jr. spoke on behalf of the Board with praise of what “Tony” Gulotta has done with the project.

“He had a vision,” Rivet said.  “He was a visionary.  I would like to honor Mayor Gulotta in renaming the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park in his name.”

It is believed that Mary Sue Gulotta is the first female to ever serve as mayor of the City of Plaquemine.  She will assume the duties of her late husband, Mark A. "Tony" Gulotta in hopes of finishing up projects he wished to be done by the end of his term in December 2016.