Story by staff reporter Nora Drenner
Back on the table in Natchitoches Parish is consideration of letting the voters decide if they would like to go back to the police jury form of government or keep the current home rule charter.
On the agenda at the regular Feb. 24 Parish of Natchitoches council meeting was for council members to consider for or against keeping the Home Rule Charter and Council-President form of government and to vote by motion to begin an introduction ordinance to repeal the Charter and to give the pleasure of the voters of Natchitoches Parish in regard to continuing to utilize the Home Rule Charter Council-President form of government or repeal the Charter for this form of government and replace it with the Police Jury form of government.
Via a three to two vote, with Chris Paige, Patsy Ward-Hoover and John Salter saying aye, and Jim Kilcoyne and Marty Cheatwood saying nay, the ordinance was introduced. Noted was that only three votes were needed to introduce the ordinance, however, the aye vote would need to jump to four in order to pass the ordinance to put the measure on the ballot. The next step is a public hearing which cannot take place for a least 28 days.
Going back to the voters to let them decide under which form of government they wish to live has been kicked around since 2019 with the then parish council unable to get the votes needed to let the people decide. At that time councilmen Russell Rachal and Doug DeGraffenreid were the nay votes that kept the measure off the ballot.
The Parish of Natchitoches has been governed by a Home Rule Charter since 2012 following a vote by the people to replace the police jury system. The Home Rule Charter provides for a Parish President and five-person council to comprise the legislative and executive branches. An elected council is the legislative branch, while the Parish President serves as the chief executive officer and head of the executive branch.
Under the Natchitoches Parish Police Jury, there were eleven jurors which proponents say made it easier for smaller communities within the parish to be heard.
The City of Natchitoches is also governed by a home rule charter, with a mayor and five-person council to comprise the legislative and executive branches.