EBR mayor-president files lawsuit against St. George incorporation
BATON ROUGE - On Monday morning, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and two private citizens filed a lawsuit to block the incorporation of the City of St. George.
The suit, which targets St. George organizers Norman Browning and Chris Rials, can block the governor’s ability to appoint an interim mayor and five-member city council until the litigation is resolved, which could take years. This would need to go through district court as well as any appeals.
The individuals behind the suit are Baton Rouge attorney Mary Olive Pierson alongside Brett Furr and Larry Bankston. Broome is joined by Baton Rouge attorneys Lewis Unglesby and M.E. Cormier as plaintiffs in the petition. Cormier acted as leader of the 'Better Together/Residents Against the Breakaway' initiative, which was one of several groups opposed to the incorporation of St. George.
Mark Armstrong, the Mayor-President's spokesman, said private donors are financing the suit against St. George.
The organizers of the St. George effort released a statement later Monday:
The decision by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and two private citizens to challenge the October 12, 2019 election results in favor of incorporating the City of St. George is at best, an attempt to delay the incorporation of the City of St. George, and at worst, an attempt to undermine a lawful election.
The merits of incorporating the City of St. George were vetted by the public and in the press for many years prior to a single vote being cast. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent by opposition groups to send false and misleading information to registered voters in an attempt to dissuade them from voting in favor of incorporation. The opposition’s attempts were resoundingly rejected by the more than 17,000 registered voters who voted to incorporate St. George, resulting in a resounding eight percentage point victory in a high voter turnout election, held on the specific date Mayor-President Broome requested Governor Edwards to set the election on.
The organizers listed in this lawsuit represent over 32,000 people who participated in the democratic process and over 80,000 residents of the future City of St. George. It is our genuine desire that Mayor-President Broome accept the will of the voters that St. George be governed as a separate municipality. We look forward to demonstrating how the City of St. George can be an asset to East Baton Rouge Parish, making it a better place to do business and a better place to call home.
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