This past week, Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle announced that he will not seek re-election this fall.
In a letter penned to The Times and other local media for release, Cantrelle was spewed venom toward the council and other parish employees. He said that he couldn’t put his family through four more years of “volatile conditions” and “frivolous charges and accusations.”
Cantrelle then touted some accomplishments within his four years that he’s proud of before stating that he would remain active as a citizen — even while riding off into the sunset.
Mr. Cantrelle is right in that political times in Lafourche Parish Government are tumultuous. But to deflect blame solely onto others in government is not an accurate depiction of how things are operating in Lafourche right now.
Mr. Cantrelle ran for this office on a platform centered around unity.
He said multiple times that he would seek to bring the parish back together after some of the bickering between former Parish President Charlotte Randolph and the council during her final term.
But right away, the olive branch he extended burnt to a crisp and there is blame to be given to both Cantrelle and the council for the erosion of trust.
Mr. Cantrelle is correct in pointing out the rough relationship he’s had with the council — a relationship that has become so pointed that it’s now become somewhat unhealthy.
We watch the meetings — sometimes in person and sometimes from afar.
The lack of civil discourse between he and the council at meetings is telling, and quite frankly, embarrassing. The smallest request turns into a battle, which wages to war.
Progress in Lafourche has often been delayed while the political lines have been so clearly drawn.
But what Mr. Cantrelle also needs to understand — and what he fails to point out in his letter — is that things have been done unto the council throughout the past four years to cause that trust to go away.
Mr. Cantrelle is correct in listing the accomplishments of his administration in the past 4 years — many of which were campaign promises during the election.
But what he does not say is that his administration has not always been the best at communicating — to the public or to media.
Council members often site that lack of transparency as one of the biggest reasons for the divide. The Cantrelle administration has had opportunities over the past 4 years to erase some of those questions, but at each fork in the road, other decision makers in the parish said they felt like they were given less and less insight into how and why things were being done.
So that brings us to where we are today — a time where a parish president leaves and another steps in for the future.
We wish Mr. Cantrelle the best in his future and we thank him for some of the advances Lafourche was able to make during his time in office.
But it wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t blameless.
There were mistakes made along the way and the next president — whomever that is — would be wise to learn from those mistakes in their attempt to unify the parish in the future.