St. James parish president candidate responds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2011

L’Observateur posed a series of six questions to the candidates running for parish president in St. James Parish. Responses are printed below.

(Editor’s note: Rowdy Kennard Scott’s responses were not received in time for publication.)

Economic development is key to running any successful administration. What will you do to foster economic development in the parish?

Timothy Roussel: Regarding small businesses, my plan is to form a nine-member task force (volunteer basis). We will dedicate an employee to represent this task force with my input as well. We will conduct a survey that includes every parish in our state and every county nationwide to find out new and innovative ideas to help small business. We will build upon those ideas, working to implement them, even if it takes passing new laws that will allow us to do so. As for large businesses, I will work with our large businesses and help with training needs, including having local workers receive proper training skills for today’s economy by linking vocational and technical education programs. We will look into the possibility of investing/sponsoring some training classes at our local Career & Technology Center attached with the St. James Parish School System.

With scandals cutting short the careers of so many politicians these days, what will you do to ensure your administration is transparent and ethical?

TR: Our directors, coordinators and supervisors will follow a high expectation of ethical standards. We will always maintain an open door policy and keep the books open for public scrutiny. We will focus on random and regular internal audits to ensure a corruption-free administration. All supervisors will be expected to attend training that will ensure the proper skills, knowledge and ability.

In the River Parishes, uniting the east and west banks has always been problematic. What will you do to eliminate this problem?

TR: The bridges on either end of the parish are in place with connecting highways making us all connected. To bring people together, we’ll start with trying to get all of the elected officials to meet on a social basis once a year to build relationships with hopes of working as a team. We will also work toward having quarterly interfaith meetings with the clergy in an effort to identify problems for us to address in the communities.

They say there is power in numbers. What will you do to build cohesion across the River Parishes?

TR: The River Region Caucus was formed on July 1, 1997. I am proud of the fact that I, along with two fellow councilmen from St. John and St. Charles parishes, initiated the formulation of this group to start building a coalition of strength in the River Parishes to address common issues. Ascension Parish joined in August of 2000. We will continue to work with that effort along with other possible opportunities.

In any elected position, one’s first priority must be the constituents. How will you build a relationship with the members of the community, and how will you build an administration that serves them?

TR: I will be starting with an open door policy, of course. Services through programs for constituents will be monitored to ensure that everyone’s needs will be represented. We need to offer more public awareness about some of the more underutilized programs. Drainage surveys will be done. Prioritization will take place and we will establish a preventative maintenance program to keep our drainage in check. Most work orders are for things requested by citizens; we want to establish a communication tool geared toward keeping the resident informed as to when their item of interest will be addressed.

What else would you like the voters to know?

TR: We will strive to communicate with the poorest of people in our communities, utilizing our Human Resources Department and possibly teaming up with the sheriff to make drop-in visits with our homebound that may not get to see someone every day. We want to work on fixing the problems in government by convening an internal task force with one person from each department, meeting quarterly to identify areas of concern. We want to bring in an outside safety auditor to assess what we have that is working and what we have that’s not. We will utilize his recommendations for a roadmap to do what is right for our employees.