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Shreveport's mayor, council may get bonus month to run city

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SHREVEPORT, La -

A unexpected quirk in the 2014 election calendar means Shreveport's mayor and current City Council may serve an extra month beyond their four-year terms.

The City Charter states that the mayor and council members are to take office 21 days after their election. In the past, that has meant a late November inauguration, following the general election of the first Tuesday in November.

But the City Charter also requires the city to follow the federal calendar for the election of members of Congress. Until now, there hasn't been a problem since primaries were usually held in October with any runoffs held in November. But the election code has changed since the last election.

That change means that in 2014 candidates would face off in the Nov. 4 primary, but any runoffs that are necessary wouldn't be until Dec.  6. 

That could mean a Dec. 27 inauguration date for the successor to Mayor Cedric Glover and the official swearing in for council members.

The matter came to light based on an inquiry by KTBS/KPXJ to City Council staff.

An initial review by the council's attorney, Julie Glass, has put the swearing-in date for two days after Christmas. However, her office is reviewing whether anyone who is elected outright on Nov. 4 could be sworn in earlier – on Nov. 25, the standard 21 days after his or her election.

Regardless of that opinion, it is certain that the city will have a new mayor by 2015, and at least two new council members. The three – Glover and Councilmen Joe Shyne and Ron Webb – are barred from running again because of term limits. 

The unforeseen hitch in swapping over the reins of city government creates other potential issues:

--  The City Council must approve a 2015 budget by mid-December, before the next council takes office. However, Council Chairman Michael Corbin notes that a budget was adopted before his swearing-in four years ago, but that he and other council candidates had been encouraged to sit in on briefings and deliberations.

--  Regardless of any opinion rendered by City Hall attorneys, challenges could arise from citizens who object to whatever swearing-in schedule is set. Someone could object to the mayor and council serving beyond their four-year terms.

-- Could actions taken by a held-over council be challenged? Corbin says the next chairman of the council -- Shyne is now vice chairman -- would be wise to try and expedite potentially controversial issues before November and December, or postpone them for the new council.

Corbin wants any questions about the election dates resolved early -- seeking an opinion from the state Attorney General if necessary.

 

EXCERPTS FROM THE CITY CHARTER:

 Section 3.01(Shreveport City Charter). Elective officers.

 The elective officers of the City of Shreveport … shall serve for terms of four (4) years from the twenty-first day following their election and until their respective successors are elected and qualified. Elections for the elective officers of the city shall be held every four (4) years at the same time as the elections for members of Congress are held, beginning with the 1978 elections.

 Section 3.02. Conduct of elections.

 … Primary and general elections for elective offices of the city shall be conducted in accordance with the election laws of the State of Louisiana. "

 

APPLICABLE STATE LAW:

 The state Election Code sets the dates for elections. La. R.S. 18:402(B) provides:

 "B. Congressional elections…  

(1) Primary elections for members of congress and officers elected at the same time as members of congress shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of an election year.

(2) General elections for members of congress and officers elected at the same time as members of congress shall be held on the fifth Saturday after the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of an election year."

 

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