When Parish President-elect Matthew Jewell takes the oath of office on Sunday, he fully intends to make good on his promise to “hit the ground running” with his administration.
Jewell will enter office along with four new council members: LaSandra Darenbourg Gordon, District 1; Nicky Dufrene, District 4; Bob Fisher, District 6, and Holly Fonseca, At-large Division B.
The next day, Jewell’s first day in office, he will seek Council approval for his department heads.
Two new additions will come up for consideration:
- Miles Bingham as director of Public Works and Wastewater. Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux held the position during Parish President Larry Cochran’s administration.
- Corey Oubre is nominated as director of legal services. Oubre ran unsuccessfully for district judge, Division C, in October in St. Charles Parish.
Several department heads also to be considered are from Cochran’s administration:
- Grant Dussom, chief financial officer
- Joe Ganote, director of Emergency Preparedness
- Robert Brou, director of Waterworks
- Michael Albert, director of Planning and Zoning
- Duane Foret, director of Parks and Recreation
- Joan Diaz, director of Community Services
- Corey Faucheux, director of Economic Development and Tourism
Additionally, Jewell said current staff will be evaluated and necessary changes made to support his administration’s goals and objectives.
“My team and myself have been working over the last two months to ensure that my administration hits the ground running when I enter office on Jan. 13,” he said. “I look forward to and thank the residents for the opportunity to serve them.”
Overall, Jewell said he is working on outlining the parish’s priorities in budgeting, structure and projects.
Entering office, he said one of the first actions will be to audit the parish’s finances and physical assets.
“From there, we will analyze the findings and evaluate any deficiencies found,” he added. “It is my goal to ensure that we are always fiscally responsible and focusing on the parish’s core mission.”
Jewell said his administration is inheriting a general fund “that currently sits just north of $7 million,” which he blames on budget amendments made during 2019 budget hearings under Cochran’s administration.
“I would like to establish a healthy general fund balance while maintaining critical projects that will improve the quality of life of our community,” he said.
Under Cochran, the general fund reached $14 million until the approval of nearly $9 million in projects that Jewell asked the Parish Council to put on hold for his administration. Council members maintained the West Bank splash park and East Bank Park expansion resulted from their work and approved both of them in the last council meeting of 2019.
Jewell said he supports recreational projects that support parish families, but maintained he and the council should have input in them.
“Additionally, we will be revising and updating a recreational master plan that will ensure a strategic and sustainable recreation program for years to come,” he said.
In the Oct. 12 primary, Jewell beat incumbent Larry Cochran, who was seeking his second term in office as parish president. Jewell won it outright with 55.6 percent of the vote over Cochran’s 34.1 percent.
Soon after the election, Jewell named a seven-member transition team to promote a smooth move into office. They looked at the organizational structure of multiple parish governments of similar size and budget, which he said was intended “to determine an efficient structure that meets the goals and objective of my administration.”
In November, he announced he was seeking candidates for several important positions in parish government that include chief administrative officer, director of Parks and Recreation, public information officer, chief operating officer, executive assistant to the parish president and grants officer.