In Louisiana, political and legal structures maintain several elements from the time of French governance. One is the use of the term "parish" in the place of "county" for administrative subdivision. Another is the legal system of civil law based on French, German and Spanish legal codes and ultimately Roman law as opposed to English common law.
Differences still exist between Louisianan civil law and the common law found in the other U.S. states. Thus property, contractural, business entities structure, much of civi procedure, and family law, are still mostly based on traditional Roman legal thinking.
Louisiana was unique among U.S. states in using a system for its state and local elections similar to that of modern France. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, ran in a nonpartisan blanket primary (or "jungle primary") on Election Day. If no candidate had more than 50% of the vote, the two candidates with the highest vote total competed in a runoff election approximately one month later. This run-off did not take into account party identification; therefore, it was not uncommon for a Democrat to be in a runoff with a fellow Democrat or a Republican to be in a runoff with a fellow Republican. Congressional races have also been held under the jungle primary system. All other states (except Washington) use single-party primaries followed by a general election between party candidates, each conducted by either a plurality voting system or runoff voting, to elect Senators, Representatives, and statewide officials. Since 2008, federal congressional elections have been run under a closed primary system — limited to registered party members.
The mayor and council of Denham Springs are elected to four year terms by popular vote.
Form of Government
When Louisiana's governmental framework was devised, the structure of parish government was fragmented among a number of different officials and it remains so. The parish governing authority is only one part of the total parish governmental structure. Many functions are vested in independently appointed or elected officials such as the elected assessor, coroner, clerk of court, district attorney and sheriff. Many federal and state mandates must be considered when viewing the overall parish government picture.
41 of state's 64 parishes operate under the Police Jury form of government. The other 23 parishes operate under a form of home rule charter. The home rule charter governments include Council-President, Commission, Consolidated Government, and City-Parish. Livingston Parish operates under the Council-President form of government.
The more prevalent president-council charters typically provide for a strong, full-time chief executive, elected at large. The president normally has strong appointment and veto powers-including an item veto over appropriations. In some parishes, the president is the administrative manager as well as chief executive. In other parishes, he appoints a chief administrative officer (CAO) or assistant to fill that role.
Denham Springs participates in the mayor-council form of government. The mayor acts as the presiding officer of the council and ceremonial head of the City, exercising a mayoral vote only under the circumstances of a tie.