Parish President Jaclyn Hotard to seek re-election
Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2023
LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard announced today that she will seek a second term as parish president. The election is scheduled for October 14.
“My first term as parish president thrust me into unprecedented times,” Hotard said. “The baptism by fire included the initial and second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and then the devastating destruction to the parish caused by Hurricane Ida – the strongest Hurricane to strike St. John. The first three years of my tenure as parish president required almost daily crisis management, but St. John pressed on. New businesses continue to open and historic projects are moving forward, so the horizon is bright for the citizens of St. John.”
In her first 60 days, Hotard’s knowledge and experience of the Parish’s finances resulted in savings of over $3 million in debt payments resulting from Hotard quickly seizing the opportunity to refinance outstanding bonds.
Hotard’s knowledge of governmental functions and established partnerships allowed for swift and comprehensive pandemic response including her leading the effort to mobilize testing and vaccination sites on both sides of the river. Additionally, Hotard set up numerous virtual town halls with members of our Congressional delegation, medical professionals, and a host of other support services for parish residents. Recognized for her leadership, Hotard was called upon by Governor John Bel Edwards in May of 2020 to serve on the Resilient Louisiana Commission for Transportation and Infrastructure.
During the pandemic, the Parish quickly pivoted its recreational programming to include kid and adult art, yoga, cheer camps, soccer and tennis clinics and more. Additionally, under Hotard’s tenure, participation in parish recreational programs has increased and park improvements are continuing throughout the Parish. “We will continue to add quality programming to our recreation department so residents of all ages can participate.”
Hotard’s direct knowledge of a post-storm environment allowed for the quick activation of recovery efforts following Hurricane Ida. Even with over 100 parish facilities severely damaged – some being completely destroyed – clean up and recovery efforts began immediately. POD sites were quickly set up across the Parish and in the first 60 days following the strongest storm to hit St. John, approximately 750,000 cubic yards of construction debris had already been collected and progress was visible.
After Hurricane Ida, Hotard also seized on the opportunity to address long overdue canal debris removal by working with FEMA and other federal agencies to clean debris from over 50 parish canals. These efforts are still ongoing and the Parish continues to pursue grant funding. In March 2023, the Parish secured another $1.1 million in grant funding for canal cleaning efforts. “My plan is to remain committed to this project until all canals are cleaned,” she said.
Despite the challenges, Hotard simultaneously began implementation of major water and wastewater improvement projects. She successfully secured over $120 million dollars to begin comprehensively upgrading parish wide water systems and to consolidate aging and dilapidated wastewater systems. When completed, parish water systems will provide residents with a safe, reliable water system, and the wastewater improvements will increase efficiency, safety, and save the parish approximately $1 million annually. “I began my term laser-focused on comprehensive water and wastewater projects. We are successfully moving these projects to completion – these are the demonstrable results the residents of St. John deserve.”
Hotard also hit the ground running on day one for the St. John levee project by coordinating directly with State agencies to grant temporary road easements to accomplish timely construction on the levee access roads. “My knowledge and understanding of government contracts allowed for a quick turnaround so there was no time wasted on being one step closer to having the flood protection we deserve.”
Hotard led the effort to have St. John named a Louisiana Development Ready Community by the Louisiana Economic Development Department – a designation which helps communities prepare and become competitive for new investments and jobs. Additionally, Hotard established a homebuyer assistance program which has resulted in over $5 million of new real estate transactions and new homeownership.
She established the first “Coats for Kids” drive where she involved local industry to support in providing the gift of warmth to our local youth. Additionally, she launched a Parish President’s Scholarship which is annually awarded to a recipient at each local high school to support their academic endeavors. “Having qualified knowledge and institutional experience is critical for the progress of St. John. We have accomplished so much in our first term, but we are just getting started and have more work to do,” said Hotard. “I never take lightly the honor it is to serve the community in which I was born, raised, and love, and I am humbled and excited about the opportunity to continue to serve the residents of St. John.”