Northshore lawmaker considering change to recall requirements

Ashley Rodrigue talks to a lawmaker who is considering relaxing the process of recalling an elected official.

MANDEVILLE-  In May 2013, a fired up group of citizens in St. Tammany kicked off a petition to kick out parish Coroner Peter Galvan following revelations of misspending and mismanagement.

Rick Franzo, who led the effort to get 54,000 signatures in six months, in order to establish a recall election, says the task was monumental.

"We were short, quite a bit, we only had about 30,000 signatures, over 4 1/2 months," he said, "It would have been really difficult to put it over the top."

Galvan's guilty plea on federal corruption charges forced him to resign, but the experience shed light on a bigger issue, and State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, wanted to do something about it.

"There are a lot of times that you see people do things that are just awful and there ought to be a safety valve in the electoral process that if it's necessary for the people to say absolutely not, it should be able to be done without a daunting, daunting effort," he said.

During the 2015 session, Hollis got a study started to look at ways to make the process easier.  The results are expected in before the end of this year.  Hollis is hoping that information, and feedback from his colleagues, will help him create a change that will even the playing field from the current requirement to get signatures from one-third of an area's registered voters.

"I would tell you that in most states, the requirement is not based on eligible voters, it's based on the number of voters that participated in that particular election," Hollis said, "It should be tough, but it certainly shouldn't be impossible."

As for the current effort against Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni, Franzo said he's willing to offer his learned "Do and Don'ts" of a recall to ease the process for the metro area's newest set of fired up citizens.

Hollis said he's considering whether to approach the change as a bill or constitutional amendment, which would allow voters state-wide to decide.

(© 2016 WWL)


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