Web exclusive: New council members outline goals
The Louisiana City Council had three new members who were sworn into office on Monday, April 8 at the regular board meeting.
The trio ran on a reform ticket, promising to open city government and create new opportunities.
To find out how they plan to do that, the Press-Journal sent three e-mail questions to each, which they answered.
Here are the questions:
1) What does this election mean for Louisiana and it’s future?
2) Do you think the election results reflect the voters seeking change and why?
3) What do you think are the city’s priorities and how can you address them?
Here are the answers:
1. I hope it means a positive direction for Louisiana’s future with progress in place of division.
As one of eight council-members I can only speak for myself but that is definitely my intention.
We need move forward with progress, planning, promotion of our town, and positive projects.
My hope is to improve the quality of life for everyone living here and get the younger people involved. It’s our community, it belongs to everyone and if even a small part gets involved just think what we can accomplish together.
2. I feel that the election results reflect our citizens hope that our future will be more positive then our immediate past reflects. We all need to move forward, call it change or progress, that’s what we need in our community.
3. Infrastructure, including our waste water treatment and drinking water plants and their supply systems are a major priority and we need to have a comprehensive plan to address them, not just react to situations.
Economic development to increase our job base and provide additional income for necessary city services is a must and working together with the PCDA needs to be a priority in this development.
Comprehensive planning overall needs to be addressed from financial planning to economic development to preservation of our infrastructure and buildings.
There have been comprehensive plans developed in the past, we need to work off of that, update them and then actually follow them. Continue with the DREAM Initiative and utilize the information and recommendations that are made will be a big step to revitalizing not only the downtown business district but the city as a whole.
1. Open government: the people want a government that follows the law and has its discourse in the light of day. Citizens want to be informed and allowed to participate and share their ideas and opinions.
2. Professionalism: folks are tiered of all of the negativity. They want a local government that conducts itself in a way which makes us proud of our town and optimistic about our future. They also want competent leadership which will address the real issues facing Louisiana.
3. Vision: Louisiana has sent a message that we need to unify around a vision for the future; chart a course which will lead to specific goals; and empower everyone to be a part of helping us get there.
For my part, I initially hope to focus on two things which will have direct impact on our chances to succeed with all other progress.
First, I think it is critical that we work with the Mayor (as required by ordinance) to structure the City Council Committees in a way that maximizes the Council’s areas of expertise.
For example, Sal Pollice brings professional financial planning skills to the table which would be immensely useful were he to be chair of the Finance Committee.
Or, looking at it the other way, I wouldn’t bring anything special to the Water Committee whereas Monroe Elliott is far more qualified to head that committee. As far as my own role, I think my communication and analytical skillset is perfect for the Ordinance Committee. We need the right people in the right place to be effective for Louisiana.
Second, Louisiana needs healing. This is a difficult issue, particularly because, as most folks know, I have been very critical of the Wallace administration. But it is clear that the people of Louisiana are worn out from all of the bad press and negative publicity. It has been divisive.
I think we had to travel that road to get through the issues; but I am hoping now for a period of cooperation and healing. My hope is that Mayor Wallace and others will meet me half-way as I extend an offer of collaboration and constructive discourse.
I truly hope (underlying which is my greatest fear for Louisiana over this next year) that we can put the past behind us, only taking the lessons learned forward, in service to our mutual future. I will work hard and even risk some advantages in order to make these relationships in local government work.
I will not, however, sacrifice the priorities of open government, professionalism, and vision in subordination to getting along. Those will be my “line in the sand.” If we can all maintain a fair and forward thinking framework, Louisiana will see a great deal of healing in coming months.
Of course the real work to be done is towards economic development. I see the DREAM Initiative, a full-time Economic Development expert, and communication initiatives (internal and external to Louisiana) as critical to our success.
This will require a lot of cooperation from the Wallace Administration in this next year.
There are some things the City Council can do itself; however, the culture of the City Council will need to make a fundamental shift – a shift I plan to actively promote.
We need a City Council who stops trying to do the City Administrator’s job and instead focuses on high-level, critical discourse addressing things like bringing in jobs, minimizing the money that is leaving town, engaging our youth, investing in our infrastructure, stopping the domino-effect-collapse of our historic downtown (physically and economically), unifying downtown and west-end merchants, and other topics pertinent to real leadership.
These are the conversations that will revive Louisiana – they are the straps on our boots by which we might pick ourselves up from the rubble of recent decline.
I amå optimistic and hopeful. And the thing that makes me most so is the fact that the citizens of Louisiana seem to be paying attention. They seem to be willing to engage and to be a part of the solution. We need every citizen.
Louisiana cannot afford to cast aside anyone who is willing to bring forward constructive effort.
As I discussed yesterday with my recent critic, David Minor, we need Tom Wallace, we need Bart Niedner, we need every citizen to work openly and honestly in sharing their expertise and capacity to build a bright future for Louisiana. We need to empower one another towards a well-defined common vision.
1) I believe this election is indicative of what the citizens of Louisiana are trying to accomplish.
We are all desperately trying to regain a focus and a new vision for our town. The election is a positive indication that we are seeking to strengthen our traditional focus as well as continue to embrace new goals and ideas from the next generation of the Louisiana citizens.
I think this election certainly means that Louisiana has embraced a new sense of community and hope as well as a new sense of direction to bring us into the next stage of growth.
2) I think the voters were seeking change based on the economic and social issues we have been dealing with up to this point.
In a time of difficulty economically as well as socially for our town , it has been more important than ever to use sound judgement as well as expedite our decisions to come up with swift results when we lose our businesses and competitive edge to other area towns.
It is a critical time for us as an community to make the “do or die” decisions that will guide us for the next 25 years. Not just the next 2-3 years.
We can not afford complacency when the community is losing citizens by the dozens. The people of Louisiana are ready to be a part of the growth in this town, not just as spectators.
3) I believe the city’s priorities are many. Ranging from economic development , infrastructure, Citizen confidence as well as creating a competitive education base in our schools.
I believe we can address them by creating and maintaining reasonable ordinance’s and providing comprehensive plans to help generate development in Louisiana.
My first priority as a councilman is to try and refocus or government and citizens into expediting plans on attaining a grocery store as soon as possible. At a minimum, as a first order of business, I would like to have a tangible target date set for the citizens to plan on having their grocery store available.
I believe completing one project at a time will continue to help attract large and small business to our town within a reasonable time frame. With unity on our city government level we will be able to achieve these things at a very rapid rate.