Nine people have applied to fill the Metro Council seat vacated by Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg, who was elected in November to serve as a state representative.
The council will pick Freiberg’s replacement at its Wednesday meeting, marking the first time it tests its new rules for filling vacancies, which were approved one year ago.
Under the new rules, any registered voter living in a district with an open seat can apply to fill the position simply by submitting an online application. The council will then review the applicants and whichever candidate secures a majority of votes from the remaining 11 council members wins the seat.
Previously, a council member who left office early could essentially handpick their replacement—unless they died in office, in which case their spouse made the selection. But following the uproar that arose when selecting a replacement for Councilman Buddy Amoroso, who died in a 2018 cycling accident, the council changed the policy.
“I wanted the process to be more inclusive and deter the whole idea of the council having such a big influence in who was going to apply,” says councilwoman Chauna Banks, who championed the revised measure and says she did not encourage any of the nine candidates to apply.
However, the council is currently comprised of six Republicans and five Democrats, strengthening the likelihood that Freiberg, a Republican, will be replaced by another GOP member. Moreover, at least two council members—including Trae Welch and Scott Wilson—say they will likely support the applicant Freiberg recommends to them (Freiberg could not be reached for comment before this afternoon’s deadline).
“There’s no one who knows the district better than Barbara does,” Welch says. “She’s already talked to most, if not everybody, on that list.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Matt Watson says he wants someone supported by the people of District 12—which includes Southdowns, Kenilworth, Valley Park, Concord Estates and other neighborhoods—who brings a unique area of expertise that the council currently lacks. And Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis says she’s looking for someone who can work well with all council members, which she says Freiberg was able to do.
District 12 applicants include:
• Christopher Boggs, owner and president of SRS Wealth Management Group
• Rose Carey, retired Department of Corrections Credit Union employee
• Jorge Ferrer, retired professional engineer
• J. Marston Fowler, general counsel at The Workforce Group
• Mackenzie Ledet, director at Stonehenge Capital
• Tania Nyman, community activist and former LSU English instructor
• Jennifer Racca, benefits consultant at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
• Elvin Sterling, specialist at Interstate Construction & Demolition Group Inc.
• Messiah Ward, retired auto parts store owner.
Whoever the council selects will complete the rest of Freiberg’s term, serving until the end of 2020.