LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The race for tax assessor is already starting-- State Senator Willie Mount plans to run for the seat soon to be vacated by Richard Cole. It turns out there will be more than a year left on Cole's term when his resignation as tax assessor becomes effective January 15th. So, Calcasieu Police Jurors will hold a special meeting next Tuesday to call a special election.
It's an office with a sort of cloud over it since the last two tax assessors appear to have betrayed the public trust. Jurors have scheduled a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday at the Parish Government Building. No doubt, restoring public confidence in the office will be an issue. Mount, who has reached her term limit in the State Senate, plans to run. She said, "We've worked on ethics reform. So we have a great deal of experience knowing what we needed to do, what the people of the State of Louisiana expect as far as raising those levels of accountability and honoring the trust that they've given us by electing us to certain positions. So, I think the experience as a legislator, experience as a mayor, certainly gives me an opportunity to continue to share those experiences and work with the people of Calcasieu Parish."
Mount faces a term limit as Senator from District 27. She was first elected to the position in 1999 after serving as Mayor of Lake Charles for more than six years.
When there's more than a year left on an elected official's term, a special election is required there are almost two years left in Cole's term as Administrator Bryan Beam explains. "His term does not actually end until December 31st of 2012. Even though there's an election in 2011 it's the unexpired term that indicates whether there needs to be a special election. So, in this case it will be required."
It costs about $175,000 to hold a parishwide election in Calcasieu Parish. The next available election date is in April, but in order to avoid the cost of an extra election, Police Jurors are expected to call the assessor election for October 22, 2011. Says Beam, "The October election means there won't be any extra cost to the taxpayer for having this special election because there are already other items that are parishwide on that ballot."
Cole resigned after being indicted for alleged felony malfeasance in office. In the interim the Deputy Tax Assessor Wendy Aguillard will assume his duties.
When they meet next Tuesday, jurors are expected to call the election for October 22nd. If needed a runoff could be held November 19th. That would make qualifying for the office September 6th through 8th.