Commissioners work to fill seat after surprise resignation

Commissioners work to fill seat after surprise resignation

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Longtime Caddo Commissioner Kenneth "Ken" Epperson's resignation became effective just before the first of the year.

After decades of service as a public official, he quit without giving the public or his district any kind of warning.

"It was fairly surprising," District 1 Commissioner Doug Dominick said. "He works hard for his constituents, so I was a little bit surprised."

Some commissioners say he even had legislation on the agenda in January and had been planning ahead, which makes his resignation even more surprising.

"It totally caught me off guard because he was already planning his annual town hall meeting in January," District 2 Commissioner Lyndon Johnson said. "So when he said he was resigning, it basically caught me off guard."

Johnson found out last week that Epperson was resigning, after the former commissioner gave him a courtesy call.

"I heard right before it broke, but it was still surprising," Johnson said.

"He [Epperson] said since we had a good relationship as fellow commissioners, he did give me a call to say 'Hey, I have some news for you'."

Epperson didn't explain why he was resigning, Johnson said.

"I asked him if he was sick, and he said no. So, after that, I didn't really worry about it."

Epperson's resignation letter is dated Dec. 8.

The letter from the Louisiana secretary of state's office informing the parish government is dated Dec. 14.

His resignation was effective at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31.

Caddo Parish Attorney Donna Frazier told commissioners the parish didn't receive the letter until Jan. 3.

While Epperson didn't publicly say why he quit, other commissioners say he told them.

"I've spoken to him," Dominick said. "He said it was time to move on, he was going to pursue other things. I wish him the best of luck."

Now that Epperson has left his position, District 12 is without a commissioner.

It's up to the commission to temporarily fill the seat within 20 days.

Commissioners will decide Jan. 5 whether to set Jan. 11 as the application deadline for those wanting to be the interim commissioner.

Then they will decide Jan. 19 who will fill the role until voters can decide who will succeed Epperson.

If commissioners fail to select an interim member, that task will fall to the governor's office.

Based on past experiences, Dominick believes several people may be interested in filling the role of interim commissioner,

"When former Caddo Commissioner Lindora Baker resigned, we had some very good candidates and it was hard to make those decisions," Dominick said.

"In fact, I was appointed an interim commissioner back in 2007. And there were other people who stepped up, and it was a hard decision for everyone at that time."

Meantime, District 12 is unrepresented.

But District 12 residents should know that the rest of the commission is there for them if they need help, Johnson and Dominick said.

"We do have boundaries that we represent our constituents but, at the same time, we still represent Caddo Parish," Johnson said.

Jan. 3 was the deadline for the commission to call a special election for an Oct. 14 primary and Nov. 18, according to the secretary of state's office. Candidates would have qualified July 12-14.

Parish leaders missed the Jan. 3 deadline because they didn't get the resignation letter until that date, Frazier said.

"Calling the election would have to have been done in a special meeting because in your work session, you can't take a vote," the parish attorney said. "The earliest you could have done it was tomorrow."

Now the secretary of state's office will send a letter Jan. 4 asking the governor's office to call the election," Frazier explained.

Epperson has not yet returned KSLA News 12's calls for comment on his resignation.

Copyright 2017 KSLA. All rights reserved.