‘Unusual and unfortunate timing:’ more controversy over Sulphur election

Contention over Nezat’s swearing in date
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT
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Sulphur, LA (KPLC) - More controversy surrounding Sulphur’s District 2 City Council seat. After the first election was declared null and void, and a second election was held Saturday, the latest issue is the swearing in date for Nick Nezat.

“We’re in uncharted territories—this is something that’s never happened before in the City of Sulphur,” said Nezat.

Voters elected Nick Nezat to represent District 2, but he can’t take office until the Secretary of State’s office certifies the results, which could be another week.

Until then, Mike Koonce, whose term expired May 17, will continue to serve the district.

“We’re in a situation where my opponent, who I beat twice, is now going to be making the decision for me in the June meeting on who my Land Member and BZA Board member will be, and I’ll have no say and no ability to remove them,” said Nezat.

Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay explains the city charter spells out that Nezat can’t be sworn in until the Tuesday after the election is certified.

The earliest that could happen is the day after the next city council meeting.

“It’s very unusual what’s taking place here because the redo of the election from a timing position has put it in this situation where we’re having a meeting prior to the actual swearing in,” said Danahay.

Danahay reached out to the Secretary of State for guidance. They advised that Koonce should continue to serve District 2 since he was not removed or disqualified from the office in any way.

“We’re following the legal advice of the top election official in Louisiana—the Secretary of State, and our charter just as well. So unfortunately it’s fallen out like this, and we wish it hadn’t but it has,” said Danahay.

This said, according to the charter, the council does not necessarily have to decide on the new member at the next meeting.

“If the council member of that district chose not to make that appointment he can, if he chooses to make that appointment he can. He’s still technically in office,” said Danahay.

So Nezat is asking the council to take these unprecedented times into consideration at Monday’s meeting.

“It’s very important for the people to show up at this June 13 meeting to let their voice know that they object to any appointment by the outgoing council member, that it should be my choice when I’m sworn in,” said Nezat.

Nezat also says the charter and ordinances are vague, and should be looked at so they don’t run into problems like this in the future.

We reached out to Mike Koonce to see what his plans were for the next meeting. He says he’s not sure who he’ll choose to fill the seat on the Land Use board. He says right now, he’s not even sure if he will make an appointment.

For the full agenda for next Monday’s meeting CLICK HERE.

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