DENHAM SPRINGS – Judge Doug Hughes wasn’t holding court, but he held ceremony of sorts for the swearing in of the Denham Springs mayor and City Council for their 2019-2022 terms on Tuesday.

Neither Mayor Gerard Landry nor City Council members offered comments before their swearings in.

But Hughes filled in.

The 21st Judicial District Court judge addressed the packed meeting room to compliment the mayor and council for their service to Denham Springs.

“I see this group and how many of you are continuing to serve your community,” he said after the mayor and four council members won re-election. “You work well together to improve Denham Springs,” he said. “That hasn’t always been the case in the past.”

“Before the meeting starts, I guess we should become official,” Landry said as he was sworn in for his second term after winning re-election in November.

Four council members who successfully ran for re-election also were sworn in.

Lori Lamm-Williams, Laura Schmitt Smith, Robert Poole and Jeff Wesley took their oaths individually, flanked by family members. They were joined by Amber Dugas, owner of the Taste of Louisiana Café in the Antique District. Dugas defeated Ray Riley in a runoff for the fifth seat.

Both sought the seat won by Smith in 2017.

Smith won election to her first full term on the City Council in the Nov. 6 voting. She had been elected to the council last year to fill the unexpired term of Chris Davis, who resigned.

Since council votes are called for in alphabetical order by the city clerk, Dugas hesitated before casting her first vote to approve the previous meeting’s minutes.

“Did someone miss the training meeting,” Landry playfully asked.

The mayor had a chance to ask the question about the nonexistent meeting again when Poole misspoke on another vote.

But the mayor himself fell victim in recommending the re-appointment of Fire Chief Melvin Wheat. He said, “Melvin Womack,” the city purchasing agent, to the amusement of the council and the audience.

“Now folks, this is serious business,” he said, laughing.

The majority of the meeting was spent approving Landry’s recommendations for his administration as he re-appointed 13 officials.

They include Joan LeBlanc, city clerk; Stephanie Bond Hulett, city attorney; Michelle Hood, city treasurer; Shannon Womack, police chief; Melvin Wheat, fire chief; Brad Cascio, city prosecutor; and Rick Foster, building official.

Also approved were the following Public Works Department superintendents: George Lathers, streets; B.J. Clark, wastewater; Ben Harris, water; Darrel Dugas, gas.

Rachel Boutwell was approved as animal control director.

The council also approved Lamm-Williams as mayor pro-tempore, to act in the mayor’s place when he is absent from the city, and Wesley as mayor pro-pro tempore, for when both the mayor and Lamm-Williams are not available.


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