Two seek Smith’s House seat

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011



LAPLACE – St. Charles Parish residents Greg Miller and Ram Ramachandran have announced their candidacies for the District 56 state representative seat in the Oct. 22 general election.

The House seat, which represents the entire east bank of St. Charles Parish and the easternmost portion of LaPlace, is currently held by Norco resident Gary Smith, who is seeking a state Senate seat.

Miller, an attorney who practices in property law, said his top priorities will be to enhance and create job development efforts, improve flood, drainage and hurricane protection and increase fiscal responsibility and accountability of government.

“Persistent high unemployment has forced too many of our young residents to leave the state for decent job opportunities,” Miller said. “Clearly, we must strengthen our efforts to promote economic opportunities.”

Miller said he will also focus on the continued improvement of drainage systems on both the east and west banks and better flood and hurricane protection for the district.

“The west bank of St. Charles, Montz and LaPlace desperately need a hurricane protection levee,” Miller said. “If we are serious about protecting lives, homes and businesses, this is a project that must be built immediately.”

Miller said he will support strengthening ethics laws and efforts to promote zero tolerance for corruption.

“The people of this state are entitled to honest and effective government,” Miller said. “It is essential to eliminate the corrupt practices which have been tolerated in the past. It’s time we let the world know that ‘business as usual’ of tolerating corruption is a thing of the past.”

Ramachandran, a former St. Charles Parish councilman, said he wants to ensure the Pontchartrain Levee District expands levee protection westward to protect the larger communities in the western part of the district, including Montz and LaPlace.

“Residents and major chemical/power companies in the western part of the district are exposed to hurricane and flooding,” Ramachandran said. “It is about time to complete levee projects that began in 1991 under Priority 1 state funding.”

Ramachandran said he intends to make the state attractive for new investments in existing petrochemical plant expansions by reducing rail costs through downtown New Orleans. He said the state needs to fund general and technical education to meet challenges of global competition.

“We have priced the youngsters from owning homes in our district, besides creating a specially-skilled labor shortage,” Ramachandran said. “We need to think outside the box by building an intermodal transport center utilizing our God-given ideal location, which connects the Mississippi River, interstate highways and four major railroads. We should consider using federal funds to start a commuter railroad linking New Orleans and Baton Rouge.”

Qualifying for the election begins Sept. 6.