We have sat through the first term of a new parish council and, more importantly, a parish president in Natchitoches Parish. The transition from one form of government, the police jury, to the other, a president-council (a transition I took active part in helping create), went smoothly despite the crying out of those who lost a tremendous amount of power. It’s just not fair, after all, for those with power to lose it. They feel themselves entitled to that power.
The crying out by several of the old police jurors was due in large part to the fact that they lost a big part of their power to a new parish executive, and in the case of Natchitoches, one who had experience in government prior to running for that job.
As we approach this coming election cycle, we see two names preparing to run for parish president. One of those men already holds the office, and the other has said openly that he wants to take the parish back to the police jury system. After just four years. Much like a teenager today, the prevailing sentiment is that it’s just too hard to make it work.
It’s not working immediately, and therefore we should go back to the old ways, which also didn’t work. That kind of logic is astounding. A parish government with more than a dozen representatives and no captains to steer the ship. A simple majority can shut things down quickly and permanently. That sounds like a much better option than have a legislative body and an independently operating executive, doesn’t it?
The police jury had left parish government with more than $300,000 worth of debt, and there was no trust in parish government for any sort of tax to get passed. The fiscal year budget for 2014 saw a spending decrease of more than $200,000. Two years’ worth of those kinds of saving would wipe out that deficit. With the cuts and restructuring of parish government, a chunk of the parish’s debt to the sheriff’s department for the detention center was paid in 2014. Furthermore, extra money was saved given that the current parish government was not using parish money for political battles. The police jury wasted parish money to fight the change to a new form of government, costing the parish a decent amount by forcing an election when it could have piggybacked off a statewide or federal election.
So, while one candidate says “It’s not working,” another candidate has shown us it can work. Rick Nowlin has affected a great deal of change in the parish, and to foolishly throw that change away because John Salter says it’s too hard would hurt the parish in ways only the police jury could. So, ask yourself if the police jury needs to come back and bring that kind of pain to Natchitoches Parish again. If you think they don’t, then you don’t need John Salter.