Former Mayor Tim Matte handed over the reins of the city to Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi and city councilmen were sworn in for their terms Monday.
Barry Dufrene replaces Larry Bergeron in city council district 2 and James Fontenot replaces Luke Manfre in district 4.
Tim Hymel, Ron Bias and newly elected Mayor Pro Tempore Lou Tamporello return for another term.
“This is all about orderly transition from one administration to the other,” Matte said.
Those leaving government offered their thanks to city employees, both past and present, as well as to the citizens.
Manfre said, “Mayor, I want to thank you for your leadership. Your leadership skills you’ve shown have been impeccable. I want to thank you for all you’ve done for the city … Department heads out there too, those guys that really put their heart into the city every day and the employees that work hard, I want to say thanks. For the new guys coming in, thanks for offering your time and talent to the city.”
Likewise, Bergeron had parting words to share.
“Mayor, I do want to congratulate you at this point in time publically,” Bergeron said. “You have a heart like I have, I guess, a public service heart. Over your 16 years of dedicated service as a mayor, your term as a councilman, you have served the city well. The councilmen that have served with me, we have still been on the honeymoon (phase). We were always agreeable. We agreed to be disagreeable. I appreciate that. Serving with you has been a charm for me. Serving the public, all of you out there, I have 28 years of service to the citizens of Morgan City and I appreciate the ability to serve … My intent at any time, working with the city, was to do the best I could for the city.”
Bergeron added, “I don’t think that I’m retiring. (Former chief administrative officer) Lorrie Braus is not retiring. Tim Matte is not retiring. What’s the point of retiring? To go home and do nothing? I don’t think so. You’d just as soon go and shoot me at this point in time.”
Matte reflected on his link in the history of Morgan City.
“I want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone I have served with … just a lot of fine citizens who gave their heart to this community,” Matte said.
“I have to acknowledge someone who I have to consider my mentor and that’s Mayor (Cedric) LaFleur … I learned a lot of city business but I also learned about handling people. There is a natural shyness about me and one of the first things I learned from Cedric is that you shake every hand in that room … it reminded me of the importance of every citizen and what they mean to city government.
“When I first got elected to the city council, (former mayor C.R.) Brownell was still alive at that time. Mayor LaFleur organized a meeting at Dr. Brownell’s house and he gave us a briefing on flooding. I learned more in that one and a half hour from Dr. Brownell than I ever did in any meetings I had with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from that time forward.
“They were always willing to share those experiences with me. Mayor Grizzaffi, I’ll make that offer to you. If there’s ever anything that I can help you with I would consider it a great honor and privilege,” Matte said.
Grizzaffi pledged to work with the council moving forward.
“We’ve got five guys sitting next to me. We’re going to work as a team. One man’s not going to make things happen but as a group we can make a lot of things happen. … We’ve got a mix of seasoned veterans with the three guys returning and we’ve got the new guys coming in with a lot of energy just like myself, so we want to take advantage of that,” Grizzaffi said.
Dufrene and Fontenot agreed.
“I have a lot of energy and I’m looking forward to serving people to the best of my ability. I also look forward to working with the other councilmen to make Morgan City a better place than it is today,” Dufrene said.
Fontenot agreed. “I’d like to thank Mayor Matte and this council for the job you did over the last eight years and also paving the way for us newcomers, giving us the opportunity to follow on their coattails and also take it a step further and help the city,” he said.
In other business during Monday’s meeting, Grizzaffi announced his department heads, which are largely unchanged from the Matte administration.
Marc Folse will be chief administrative officer; Greg Aucoin, city attorney; Sostenes Ruiz III, city prosecutor; Deborah Garber, chief financial officer; Bill Cefalu, utilities; Dwayne Barbier, recreation; Lisa Mayon, library and archives; Mike Loupe, public works; and Morris Price, fire chief.
Grizzaffi is interviewing candidates for the position of police chief and said he expects to appoint someone in February.