MOSS BLUFF — Candidates for Calcasieu Parish Police Jury seats in Ward One gathered for an open forum town hall meeting on Tuesday at Sam Houston High School. Candidates made introductions, campaign pledges and took questions from concerned residents from the districts.
Candidate Helen Liz Long, district one; Michael Smith, district two; Brandon Perkins, district 10; and Roger Marcantel, Tony O'Banion and David Stutes, all district 11, were among those present.
Long promised to bring "order" to the district through the optimization of tax dollars, revitalization of public trust, focus on drainage, economic growth and a roll back of millage rates.
"I want to make a positive change for Moss Bluff and bring us to the forefront of economic growth while still maintaining our small-town charm," she said.
Smith declared a "people-first" position if elected by focusing on the community needs of safety, recreation, youth and senior citizens. He also called for greater governmental transparency through community meetings and participation in financial accountablity systems like the Louisiana Checkbook.
"We need open transparency so everyone can see what's going on inside of the books," he said.
Perkins said his involvement in local politics and passion to be a "good, strong and conservative" voice to represent Ward One. In addition, he presented a plan for district's drainage woes stating, "We can't do a mass dig out. We have to start from the south and make a way out; take a good common sense approach to gravity drainage."
Marcantel took a business-centered approach referencing his military time, experience as a small business owner and big business manager. He emphasized making the most of economic incentives like the Industrial Tax Exemption Program.
"ITEP, we need to make sure that program is being monitored," he said. "Those businesses must be held accountable for what they promised in ITEP and it needs to be looked at by local experts to see what value is really added."
O'Banion said he is not a politician but rather sees the opportunity as a matter of "right or wrong." A more juror-driven approach must be taken, he said, rather than taking the police jury's staff's recommendation at all times.
"The administration or staff are actually running the police jury. They'll shove it in front of you and tell you what to do. That's what needs to change," he said.
Stutes took a fiery stance at the political and financial state of Calcasieu Parish regarding its drainage, roads and traffic. Such anger, he said, is the solution needed to make change.
"If you're not mad, it's not going to get fixed," he said.
All candidates were in agreement that drainage, incorporation possibilities, police juror-administration relations and taxes must addressed for a thriving Ward One future. Candidates Ashton Richard, Randal Armentor, Tony Stelly, Calvin Collins and Chris Archinard were not in attendance.