DENHAM SPRINGS — In his last vote as a Denham Springs City Council member, René Delahoussaye voted no.
The fact it was on a motion to adjourn the meeting on Dec. 26 didn’t mean Delahoussaye didn’t want the meeting to end – it brought a smile to everyone’s face.
“Always wanted to do that,” Delahoussaye said with his own smile, as the 4-1 vote concluded his 12-year tenure on the council.
The retired physical therapist chose not to run for re-election this fall.
“I can’t thank you enough,” Mayor Gerard Landry told Delahoussaye as the council paused in its agenda to acknowledge his service. “You and Joan taught me the ropes as I went through a learning process,” Landry said, referring to City-Clerk Joan LeBlanc.
“I appreciate everything y’all said,” Delahoussaye said after listening to tributes from his fellow council members.
“I was thinking the other day, you know, 12 years overall, you would think the city is stable and you haven’t had many changes,” he said.
“I have served with 10 different people on the council,” Delahoussaye said, while also working with two mayors and two police chiefs.
“We have had a lot of changes, but the direction of the city has always stayed the same, and that’s mainly because of good employees who help us keep it straight,” he said.
The council that will be sworn into office in January still faces challenges, Delahoussaye said.
“The next few years are going to be difficult for our city. We have a lot of things to look at, the housing situation since the flood,” he said. Zoning and beautification were two other items the city faces, he added.
“We have a chance to make the city better, not starting from scratch, but change a lot of things with grants given to us from the flood,” he said.
“The city will continue to improve, and Amber will do fine,” he said, referring to council member-elect Amber Dugas.
Delahoussaye served on the Denham Springs Economic Development District board that brought the Bass Pro Shops to the city. He also helped to establish the Denham Springs Historic District and Commission and served as first chairman of the Denham Springs Sewerage District No. 1.
“I had the chance to work with you on two levels, as a department head and on the council,” said council member Jeff Wesley, who served as police chief before retiring and being elected to the City Council. “I have tremendous respect for you. You have been a tremendous leader in this city.”
“You gave me your ear when I was a department head and on the council. I appreciate everything you’ve accomplished for the city as a whole.”
“Although I’ve only served on the council for a year, you were very committed to helping me, giving me advice,” added Laura Schmitt Smith.
The only council member to serve with Delahousaye for his three terms was Lori Lamm-Williams.
“I’ve enjoyed working with you, sitting beside you on the council,” she said.
“This is one of the most dedicated and committed people. He is here all the time. He makes it a point to know and understand everything on the agenda,” Lamm-Williams said.
“You have definitely been as asset to this city and us.”
“You have been a great friend,” said council member Robert Poole. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve with you, to be here with you was one of the greatest privileges of my life and your service to our great community.”
Poole recalled he and Delahoussaye ran for council seats in 2007.
“I was beat by one vote,” Poole recalled. “One vote would have put us in runoff; two votes would have switched the seat completely.
“I would just say that was an interesting beginning for us,” said Poole, who later won a seat on the City Council.
“The right man won that seat at the right time,” Poole said.