Election 2019: Houston & Sanders gear up for District 3 race
RESERVE — David Sanders, a Reserve native of 62 years, has a heart for the future of St. John the Baptist Parish that pulses in beat with the needs of his community, especially when it comes to code enforcement and air quality issues.
Tammy Houston, also of Reserve, is eager to help lead the St. John Parish Council with more than 30 years in public service, which has included extensive experience in policy and financial accountability.
Sanders and Houston are in the running for the District 3 seat in the Oct. 12 election, but only one can fill the spot left by Lennix Madere Jr., who is termed-limited after representing District 3 for eight years.
Houston said hometown roots have fueled her passion for service.
“As a native of St. John, born and raised in Reserve, I am passionate about the community,” Houston said. “My parents are former educators who instilled a love of my community and a love of people in me. I just really enjoy helping people, and I think with my masters degree in public administration with an emphasis in policy, I think I will do very well in the field of government.”
Houston worked in public service for more than 30 years, including one year with the state of Louisiana and 29 years as the assistant director at the St. John the Baptist Parish Library system, where she retired in 2017.
Of her 29 years spent at the library, she spent 16 years as the supervisor of the Reserve branch. Overseeing human resources and reviewing policies and procedures are only a few of the responsibilities she held during her time at the library, and she feels it has prepared her well for a Parish Council role.
“I have experience being responsible for public money,” Houston said. “I feel those skills will help me manage the business of running the parish.”
Houston is well versed in Robert’s Rules of Order, conducting agenda meetings and the intricacies of St. John Parish employee manual the from the 12 years she spent on a board for parish employees, serving as chairperson for six.
She said the greatest priorities for St. John Parish undoubtedly fall within water service and maintenance. According to Houston, St. John needs a department for managing drainage by making sure drains and basins are clean.
Water supply is also an area for improvement, she said. As a councilperson, she would look for ways to ensure the Lions water plant and the wells in Ruddock are functional at all times. She believes construction of a new water plant in LaPlace is much needed, and an alternate solution is to feed a line from the Reserve plant to the LaPlace wells to cut down the number of boil advisories.
Houston said bidding processes for water meters and other projects should face more scrutiny to ensure contracts are rewarded fairly.
“We have to make sure the people are getting the best bang for their buck, and we do that by holding the vendors accountable for the materials, the labor and the services that they are contractually obligated to provide for the taxpayers of this parish,” Houston said.
Part of being accountable means ensuring there is adequate staffing in departments to solve lower-level problems before issues transcend to the administrative level, Houston said.
Accountability also ties into the Parish’s responsibility to make sure chemical plants are in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agencies.
She also plans to seek incentives to retain small businesses in the parish in response to the numerous businesses that have opened and closed in a matter of months.
“I’ve found our people are fiercely loyal and distinctly protective of our heritage and our culture,” Houston said. “We’re a tight knit community. We care about each other, and I think officials and government should reciprocate and make the parish somewhere they can be proud to call home.”
David Sanders knows his District inside and out. He’s called Reserve home for more than six decades and has fond memories from growing up as an altar server at Our Lady of Grace Church.
“I’ve been a resident here for 62 years, and I share the frustration of my neighbors in the community,” Sanders said. “I share the same problems that have been brought to the Council’s attention with no action taken. I think I can make a difference because I’m aware of the problems that resurface in District 3. I think I can be a big influence in resolving some of these problems.”
Among those problems are the blighted properties in District 3, one of which stands parallel to Sanders’ home. In some areas of Reserve, properties have been abandoned and owners found at fault.
“It’s been on the agenda and nothing has been done about it,” Sanders said. “Instead of waiting on the parish, I can do it myself.”
With extensive experience in water treatment, Sanders has been trained to address some of the most prominent issues in St. John Parish.
He passed an exam to become a qualifying party, designated by contractors to provide guidance in complying with provisions in licensing and rules of regulation.
In addition to working closely with contractors, Sanders has ample experience in civil service working for the St. Charles and St. John Parish housing authorities.
Sanders said he can be transparent with other council members, allowing the council to get results as a unit instead of being torn apart by division.
“I do think this is a very important election year because of the levee that is being built. I think that I can contribute to St. John Parish with the whole council, besides just dealing with District 3,” Sanders said.
While Sanders said geography and industry are some of the greatest assets to the parish, he feels the Parish as a whole would operate more effectively with more regulation and accountability placed on petrochemical plants.
If elected to office, Sanders promises to advocate for a resolution in reducing emission levels of chloroprene, a likely carcinogen that has been recorded in excess levels in District 3. As a member of the Concerned Citizens of St. John, he promises to hear the concerns of the community in all aspects, and especially in regards to air quality.
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