West Hérault: why some local elected officials are throwing in the towel ?

West Hérault: why some local elected officials are throwing in the towel ?

Dernier village en date qui va revoter après des démissions d’élus : Villemagne d’Argentière. Midi Libre

In Villemagne-l’Argentière or Rosis recently, as in Maraussan in 2024, the resignations of elected officials are sometimes a symptom of difficult relations between mayors and their constituents.

Writing about the resignations of elected officials in villages is not the same as investigating the mafia or a network of drug traffickers, but it can sometimes look like that: no one speaks, and if we speak, it is ;rsquo;is always after many precautions, and anonymously. In Villemagne-l’Argentière, where a full municipal partial election will be organized on June 23 and 30, residents contacted on site are providing information in dribs and drabs. They can be summarized as follows: "The mayor was in conflict with a long-employed municipal agent. He decided to leave, and his bodyguards followed.

A few weeks ago, the prefecture announced similar news for Rosis: "The municipal council, made up of 11 seats, lost a third of its members following resignations. Consequently, there is reason to hold additional municipal partial elections for 4 seats. 1st round on June 9, 2nd round on June 16. The town of Caroux with 27 hamlets, known for its waterfalls and hiking trails, looks like a haven of peace. But relations between its inhabitants seem more tumultuous: over the past two years, four councilors have resigned. Anonymously, once again, all our interlocutors evoke the personality of the mayor elected in 2020, Anne-Lise Sauterel, who does not wish to speak. For some, "she’is a woman, an officer in the volunteer fire department, who wants to enforce certain rules… In a man's world, that doesn't go very well. For others, "it’s an authoritarian elected official, who wants to manage everything, alone.

More problems, fewer means

Elected officials are a reflection of society. They resign because of quarrels among themselves, or in the face of more or less latent conflicts with their constituents. Generally, this save-what-can does not intervene after the elections, when the municipal council benefits from a sort of state of grace, and which the mayor discovers with enthusiasm his new functions. "The most critical moment is the second part of the mandate, when we realize the difficulties of the task, < /em>assures Sophie Van Migom, director of the Training Center for Mayors and Local Elected Officials of Hérault (CFMEL). Because our elected officials from small communities have as many constraints as those from large ones. They must be competent in administrative, economic, or environmental fields, to name just a few, and must resolve increasingly technical problems, with ever more restricted means.

To help them, the CFMEL organizes training for Hérault elected officials, from setting up a budget to public procurement through community-association relations or, last week , the new legislation on temporary drinking establishments. "We organize 50 sessions per year, for more than a thousand elected officials, on 17 different themes", lists Sophie Van Migom.

"Introduce yourself! "

But sometimes that's not enough. In Maraussan, a by-election had to be organized in March 2024. The question was political – the former 1st deputy had moved to the opposition – but not only that. Rebecca Gourdin, elected in Maraussan from 2020 to 2024, describes a situation where "the advisors left little by little", not necessarily because of conflicts : "It started the next day of the election, with a resignation due to a professional transfer. Then it was a couple who left and sold their house: second resignation. Two others also moved." A erosion which would be due to another phenomenon, especially visible on the outskirts of cities: "The populations are changing, young professionals are coming to settle down. They bring dynamism, but they are much more nomadic than the old ones…"

This stay-at-home mother, who has been living in Maraussan for fourteen years, and who was a youth assistant, nevertheless wishes to send advice to all the complainers, who sometimes push elected officials to resign: run for office in the elections; ! "I too, as a simple citizen, I often railed about the things that were not moving forward in the town, confides Rebecca Gourdin. Serving a mandate made me realize the magnitude of the task, all the work that elected officials do for the community. You don't get everything by snapping your fingers…"

By-elections: where and when

In the district of Béziers, there were 7 by-elections in 2022 (Carlencas and Levas, Beaufort, Cers, Le Soulié, Lignan sur Orb, Minerve, Montouliers and Saint Etienne d'Albagnan), 5 in 2023 (Caux, Ferrals les Montagnes, La Livinière, Margon, Pierrerue) and 3 for the moment in 2024 (Maraussan, Rosis, Villemagne l’ Argentière).

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