The sixth time, or vote, was the charm for the St. Charles Parish Council as they voted in Bobby Donaldson tonight (Sept. 21) to fill Wendy Benedetto’s empty council seat.
The council had until Sept. 24 to fill the vacant seat left after longtime councilwoman Benedetto’s departure in August. If they would have failed to garner the necessary 5-2 vote tonight, the governor would have been tasked with filling the vacancy.
Councilwoman for District VII Julia Fisher-Perrier nominated Bobby Donaldson, Councilwoman-At-Large for Division B Holly Fonseca nominated Beth Billings and Councilman for District IV Nicky Dufrene nominated Walter Pilie for the seat.
All three nominations failed to garner the necessary 5-2 vote.
Councilman for District VI Bob Fisher, who initially voted for Billings and against the other two nominations, asked for a motion to reconsider vote to fill position with Donaldson.
“I don’t think we need to leave it to the governor,” he said. “I think we can come to a consensus and get this done tonight.”
Perrier asked Fisher the reason for the reconsideration, to which he said he wanted the council to work together.
Fonseca then asked for Donaldson to approach the council so that she could ask him a question, but Council Chairman Dick Gibbs said it was a very unusual request and wouldn’t be allowed.
A reconsideration vote then took place, in which all council members other than Councilwoman for District II Mary Clulee – and Gibbs who is legally required to abstain because of this chairman position – voted in favor of Donaldson taking the position.
Donaldson was immediately sworn into the role.
“Until the next election, I will do my best to work with all of you and the parish president,” Donaldson told the council members. “I’m ready to go to work. Thank you for your confidence.”
Donaldson said he was born and raised in Norco and graduated from Destrehan High School. After spending time in the Marine Corp. and working for Shell Oil Company for 32 years, Donaldson served as chief operations officer under former Parish President V.J. St. Pierre.
Council members nominated people to fill Benedettos’ seat at the Sept. 8 council meeting, and two nominations were brought for consideration – Fonseca nominated Billings and Perrier nominated Buddy Gary Boe. Both nominations failed to garner the necessary majority vote.