St. Tammany Parish President Michael Cooper was sworn in for a second term on Monday, alongside a St. Tammany Parish Council that looks vastly different from the one he worked with — and against — for the last four years.
The weather outside grew increasingly gloomy as a storm system descended on the region while Cooper stood on stage at the Fuhrmann Auditorium in Covington, flanked by the new and returning members of the Parish Council. Cooper, who won reelection in November, eking out a win against Slidell Mayor Greg Cromer, promised the parish's best days lie ahead.
The parish president vowed to continue the priorities he said he espoused during his first term.
“When I stood before you four years ago, our mission was clear,” Cooper said from behind the lectern. “Invest in our infrastructure, initiate comprehensive planning endeavors, implement modern development practices, and put our citizens first.”
“My vision is one of transparency where the citizens trust their parish government to do what is right to do what is right and just for all, while boasting a soaring economy and a thriving culture,” he added.
Cooper said his first term was “anything but ordinary.”
“Despite a pandemic, a record-breaking hurricane season, and other monumental challenges, I’m incredibly proud to say that we all stood tall and embraced those difficulties to provide a better tomorrow.”
But Cooper promised one key difference from his first term: He hopes that his second term will be defined by unity across the parish government.
“The spirit of cooperation will be the driving factor of the next four years,” he said.
Monday's inauguration was initially scheduled to take place outside the St. Tammany Justice Center. But the threat of severe weather forced officials to move it indoors.
There are nine new members on the 14-member council sworn to office Monday. Only five members of the last council opted to run for reelection and won.
That, to Cooper, is an opportunity to start fresh and build stronger ties with the new council.
His relationship with the last council frayed badly over the course of his first term, culminating in an “investigation” into his administration’s handling of the permit process for a controversial apartment complex on the outskirts of Covington. The outgoing Parish Council opted not to close that investigation at their last meeting in December.
The new members of the council who were sworn in Monday were Rick Smith, Larry Rolling, Kathy Seiden, Pat Phillips, Joe Impastato, Pat Burke, David Cougle, Jeff Corbin, and Jimmy “Gumby” Strickland.
The incumbents who kept their seats and were sworn in for another term were Martha Cazaubon, Cheryl Tanner, Maureen O’Brien, Arthur Laughlin and Jerry Binder.