Monica ready to lead St. John Parish

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 1999

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / November 24, 1999

LAPLACE – Nickie Monica is sitting in his tastefully-furnished living room, looking tired and subdued. But he is also smiling and holding hiswife’s hand.

After almost four years of planning and campaigning, Monica is going to lead St. John the Baptist Parish into the 21st century as its new parishpresident.

“This was a grass-roots campaign,” Monica said of the race. “We won,because we all worked hard. I had a vision and a message, and the peopleresponded.”He hasn’t stopped to celebrate his victory, though. Monica has to puttogether a transition team, set up the criteria for appointing seven officers in his administration, meet with the new parish council and put together his agenda for running the parish, and he has to do all this by inauguration day on Jan. 10.Monica is ready for the challenge. He has been preparing for this momentever since he first won election as District 5 councilman.

“For four years I’ve thought about being parish president,” Monica stated, “Then on Aug. 7, 1998, I really decided to actually start campaigning.”According to Monica, his wife Dawn is the one who was the deciding factor.

“I couldn’t have done it without her,” he said. “She sold me on the idea torun.”Dawn humbly disagreed.

“All I said was ‘you have to go for it’ after he told me that the time is now and the parish is ready,” she said.

Four days after the election, Monica had already accomplished one item on his to-do list. He has appointed Chris Guidry as his chief administrativeofficer.

“Chris has lots of experience,” stated Monica, “He worked for Clyde Holloway in Baton Rouge and was the legislative assistant for several representatives in Washington D.C.”A native of Reserve, Guidry has also worked the whole time on Monica’s campaign.

Asked what he plans to work on in his term as president, Monica starts ticking items off on his fingers.

“I want to get the Reserve/I-10 interchange project going, make sure our people are safe by getting a hurricane protection levee system built,” he said. “I want to get the Economic Development Department back on itsfeet. Plus, I want to solve our drainage problem by creating a DrainageDivision that would do nothing but work on drainage.”Monica also has to appoint a new chief financial officer and five other officers. Except for Guidry and the financial officer, the rest of hisappointments have to be approved by the parish council.

But Monica doesn’t think he will have any problems with the new council.

Despite six new council members, Monica is sure he and the council will get along.

“My whole career has been getting along with people,” said Monica. “Youhave to make sure the lines of communication are open between me and the council. It takes respect, cooperation and communication to get thingsdone, and I will do all three.”Cooperation seems to be the keystone of Monica’s administration.

“I will not shut out anybody’s ideas to help the parish,” Monica stated firmly. “Everyone should get involved in the process, not just my opponent,but everybody.”The other change Monica will have to make is with his old job. He’s been ona leave of absence while campaigning. Now that the election is over,Monica said he will resign his post as production supervisor at the Marathon refinery.

“I don’t want any conflict-of-interest between the parish and Marathon.

Besides,” he added with a smile, “being parish president is a full-time job.”As far as his family is concerned, Monica said the “kids are very excited” about the change in their lives.

“My 10-year old girl, Lauren, has got politics in her blood, ” Monica said, laughing. “All I’ve got to say is watch for her in 15 years. Look out St.John!” Dawn is very upbeat about the victory.

“This is all so exciting,” Dawn said. “We’re going to see some wonderfulthings happening to the parish.””I appreciate the vote of confidence,” Monica said quietly. “This is a winfor the parish. The voters are the winners in this race.”

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