St. Mary Parish voters OK school board term limit (updated)

CENTERVILLE, La. — Just under 77 percent of St. Mary voters backed term limits for school board members, which will limit them to three consecutive four-year terms beginning with elections after Jan. 1, 2014.

Previously, Jefferson and Lafayette parishes were the only districts in the state with term limits for such elected officials. House Bill 292, passed during the 2012 legislative session, allowed voters in each parish to decide for themselves whether their school board members would be limited or not.

In St. Mary Parish, 15,705 voters voted for the measure, while 4,703 were against it.

The longest serving school board member in St. Mary Parish at 26 years, Wayne Deslatte of Centerville, said he voted for the proposition.

“I think it has merit. I’ve been on the school board a long time, and I think I do a good job for my parish and my area, but I don’t think we should be locked in to these long terms anymore,” he said.

Deslatte noted the three-term limit was what he liked most about the measure.

“With 12 years, you will have members rotating in and out, not a whole new board at one time … I just think it would be better to rotate a group of members during that time frame,” Deslatte said.

He said he’s biased in one way because his community has allowed him to serve for so long.

“I’m not voting against myself. I’m voting for the future,” he said. “I think long term has (service) worked in the past. The way the country is going, I think the 12 years would take care of some problems that may come up … And, incidentally, if I’m healthy and feeling good, I’m going to run again. I think in the future (the term limits) would serve our children and our schools better.”

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