(Eric Cormier / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:24 AM
Qualified residents from three different Lake Charles City Council districts expressed their thoughts about an assortment of issues related to the city during a candidate forum ahead of the April 6 election.
The League of Women Voters sponsored the event, which was attended by District A candidates Kecee Lewis, Mary Morris and incumbent Marshall Simien Jr.; District B incumbent Luvertha August and Lionel H. Taylor; and District G incumbent Mark Eckard and Khalid Taha.
Lewis’ primary interests are to have more municipal dollars spent in District A and to find a way to tap the resources provided by young adults and professionals within the district.
“I’m the key to open the door to the youth who are up and coming. Nobody knows how much undeveloped talent is in north Lake Charles,” he said.
Lewis said the Enterprise Boulevard Parkway extension — located in the district — was a good idea. “But we need incentives for business to come to these streets,” he said.
Morris, who has campaigned for public office before, explained the need for residents to have access to the governmental process. “I’m an advocate for fairness in the community. I would involve the people,” she said.
Morris is interested in getting more city contributions to meet the needs of the elderly who need housing. She also expressed the need for the district to have comprehensive economic development plans.
Simien said he wants to serve in order to continue building on the $70 million in capital investment made in the district since he has been in office. “I’m just a homeboy trying to fix the neighborhood. The public is involved,” he said.
Simien said the future of the district would benefit if the titles of 800 pieces of adjudicated property were cleared. He said the district is primed to benefit from billions of dollars in economic expansion that is projected to occur in the region.
August said that along with being a lifelong resident of the district, her years of public service experience make her the best candidate to represent the area.
“Also, in the last few years, we’ve had a great working relationship on the City Council,” she said.
August said a problem facing the district and city in the future is the lack of skilled workers residing in the area.
She said one of the stumbling blocks facing the northern part of the city is property owners who ask for high prices for undeveloped land.
She asked that all qualified voters visit the polls on April 6.
Taylor said that years of volunteering make him the best candidate. “I’m a dedicated person,” he said. “I will dedicate my life to Lake Charles and to children. I have a solution.”
Taylor said the district would benefit from businesses along the Interstate 10 corridor. “We’ve got to promote more business to that area,” he said.
Taylor said he would also create a foundation that would educate children. “Let’s get pants off the floor and jobs in their hands,” he said.
Eckard said relieving traffic congestion has been a top priority of his.
“Cove Lane is on the books. It is getting started. When done that will eliminate congestion there. Work on Sale Road is already in the works. I know sidewalks and ditches are another sore spot,” he said.
He noted that many projects that benefit the city have started or were completed during his first term on the City Council.
“And we’ve gelled as a City Council,” he said. “It takes a while, but the things we are doing now will affect the next generation.”
Eckard stressed that he is “up to speed” on projects around the city.
Taha told the audience that safety within the city was a primary issue for him. He wants more sidewalks and wider streets in the district.
If he is elected, Taha said, he would donate his City Council check to public service employees.
“We should not be paid. It should come from the heart,” he said. “If elected, I promise to do my best to make Lake Charles safer for children, women and senior citizens.”