Wanna be on the Metro Council?
If you’re a registered voter in District 12, you can nominate yourself for the job without having to launch a campaign, hire a consultant or solicit a single contribution.
That’s because the council has an open seat and a new policy for filling it.
The District 12 seat will come available Jan. 12, when Metro Councilmember Barbara Freiberg, who was elected to the state House of Representatives earlier this month, officially steps down, leaving roughly 10 months in her unexpired term.
Until recently, a councilmember who left office early could essentially handpick their replacement—unless they died in office, in which case their spouse made the selection.
But following a flap that arose in the selection of a replacement for Councilmember Buddy Amoroso, who died in a 2018 cycling accident, the council changed the policy.
Under the new rules, any registered voter living in a district with an open seat can apply to fill the position by simply submitting an online application. The council will then review the applicants and make the selection.
Mind you, it’s not necessarily an even playing field. Councilmembers can nominate their own favorites for the position from the floor. Those with political connections can also call on their council member friends to seek support.
Freiberg says she’s already heard from one fellow councilmember, who is supporting someone for her seat. She says she’s also gotten some inquiries, including one from a likely applicant who is known in civic and governmental circles. She may even support a candidate or two, herself.
“I hope people will listen to me if I have a candidate or two that I think would be really good to take my place and shares my visions and goals for this city and community,” she says.
Freiberg, who defeated LSU political science professor Belinda Davis in the runoff for the House District 70 seat vacated by Franklin Foil, is one of three councilmembers who sought other offices this fall. Donna Collins-Lewis and Trae Welch were unsuccessful in their bids for clerk of court and 19th Judicial District Court judge, respectively.
Under state law, a special election would have to be called this spring if Freiberg resigned prior to Jan. 12, the day before the inauguration. By serving in the new year, however, the duration of her unexpired term is less than one year, which means it can be filled by an interim appointment.
Freiberg says she chose to serve up until the end both because she wanted to and because it would save taxpayers the expense of having to call a special election.