Vitter: Jobs are priority in St. Charles

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 23, 2002


In a recent interview with L’Observateur, U.S. Rep. David Vitter said St. Charles Parish could benefit from his position on the House Appropriations Committee when he inherits part of the parish during redistricting.

“We clearly have to do some important things in Louisiana to improve jobs,” Vitter said. “I am on the spending committee. That puts me in a good position to bring money into the area.”

Vitter was educated at Harvard University, Oxford University and Tulane Law School and was elected in 1999 to replace Rep. Bob Livingston. His district currently includes parts of Orleans and Jefferson parishes and soon will include parts of St. Charles Parish.

“I’m not willing to grab federal money willy-nilly,” Vitter said. “I am looking into projects for development. I’m always looking for ways to attract industry to the area.”

Vitter’s pet project is the extension of Louis Armstrong International Airport into St. Charles Parish. Plans for the airport’s expansion include building a new runway that extends into the parish. But Vitter said he will not allow the airport to move further into St. Charles Parish until some major airport administrative reform is complete.

“I have been in Congress for three years,” Vitter said. “During that time, I’ve been a strong advocate for change at the airport. I got language included in a bill that says no money for the new runway until there is reform at the airport.”

The language prevented federal money from being used to fund runway construction until an agreement can be reached between airport officials and the parishes.

The airport is currently controlled by the City of New Orleans, even though it sits in Jefferson and St. Charles parishes.

Vitter said he does not want to see further expansion until there is “true regional government” with representatives from all the local parishes at the table. Vitter said he also expects the airport to meet professional management standards and to stop functioning as a political entity.

“We should be running it as a business,” Vitter said. “We should not be doling out contracts to our political allies.”

The extension of the airport further into St. Charles Parish could bring greater economic development to the area, Vitter said.

In addition to airport reform, Vitter requested $1 million from the federal government for more sewage and water treatment repairs for the area.

“You have some very old sewage systems,” Vitter said. “Then you have soil conditions with a lot of movement because of the water table, causing cracks and breaks. Then you have the water table rising and pushing up sewage . . .”

Major repairs in sewage and water systems are needed.

Last year, Billy Tauzin, representing Louisiana’s District 3, secured $900,000 to fund some of these repairs. Vitter said he hopes to continue that work.