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EBR Metro Council fills District 12 vacancy under new rules

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BATON ROUGE - When Wednesday's East Baton Rouge Metro Council meeting started, the District 12 council seat sat empty. It was vacated earlier this month after Barbara Freiberg was sworn in as a State Representative. 

Ten residents in Freiberg's district applied to finish out the remainder of her term, which runs through 2020. Eight were present at Wednesday's meeting and gave current councilmembers one final pitch.

"These people that make up my district have a voice, and I want to be a voice for them," Jennifer Racca said. 

Jennifer Racca, a compliance attorney, insurance consultant and former city-parish employee, received six votes, the necessary amount to replace Freiberg. 

The Southern University Law School graduate now represents the more than 38,000 residents of District 12. Her appointment is the first since rules regarding council vacancies were rewritten in the aftermath of Denise Amoroso's appointment in July 2018.

Amoroso was named District Eight's interim councilwoman on July 19, 2018, after her husband, Buddy Amoroso, was killed in a biking accident in West Feliciana Parish. Her appointment followed several hours of contentious back and forth between councilmembers and members of the public. Amoroso has since been elected to the seat.

At that time, any councilmember stepping down could basically pick their successor. If they passed away, in Amoroso's case, the spouse would choose. Councilwoman Chauna Banks of District 2 led the effort to rewrite the rules. Now, any resident living in the specific district left vacant can apply for the seat. 

The new process was praised during Wednesday night's meeting.

"I don't know whether or not we're gonna mess this thing up when we go to a vote, but this has been a good process," Distrct 9 councilmember Dwight Hudson said. "It was well thought out. This is good way to do this, so thank you for bringing forth ordinance to do this."

Since Freiberg had less than a year remaining on her term, a special election does not have to be called. The District 12 seat will be on the regularly scheduled November election ballot. Racca tells WBRZ she intends to run for the permenant seat.


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