Profile: Councilman Travis Turner

District 3 Councilman Travis Turner

In preparation for this piece we asked Councilman Travis Turner what he would like to accomplish during the remainder of his tenure, whether or not that tenure is extended on October 12 (Election Day).  Turner is not one of the Council’s orators, speaking only when he has a point to make, so his terse response was true to form.  Take, for instance, his proposal at Monday’s East Ascension Drainage meeting.

EA Drainage recommends 6-month moratorium on all subdivisions

Sitting in silent observation throughout, Turner’s first utterance was to propose a 6-month moratorium on “all subdivisions” or until the Council adopts an ordinance amending regulation of fill material.  The vote was unanimous, and the Board recommended the moratorium to the full council.  We were not surprised given his response to our two questions (posed last week):

(1) How would you characterize Travis Turner’s 7.5 years on the council (of what are you most proud, any regrets, etc)?

(2) What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

Ignoring the first, the District 3 Councilman listed six goals in reply to the second (pay particular attention to the fifth).

  • No rezoning which increases the density on property.
  • Continue to improve existence parks and maximize their usage;
  • Complete the park near Astroland Subdivision; 
  • Utilize the lighting district to improve lighting throughout the district;
  • Enact a moratorium on all new subdivisions until a more stringent fill code is developed; and 
  • Continue to be accessible to all my constituents.

As it happens, Lamar Dixon (and most of the petrochemical plants in the parish) lie within Turner’s district; as does Astroland Subdivision.  Turner has, by most accounts, been accessible to those constituents.  Never more so than…

The vote was taken in December of 2017.  While his political capital was insufficient to sway a majority of colleagues to stand up to Ascension’s original land baron, Grady Melancon, Turner did assist constituents in their effort to avoid the inevitable.  That lack of intestinal fortitude was not Travis Turner’s, he worked hand-in-hand with residents, but six colleagues were unwilling to disappoint “Shady Grady.”

His voting record on subdivision development regulation has been consistent.

In 2013 his was one of the six votes that established the current 3′ limit on fill material, flawed though it is.  He also supported the ordinance aimed at closing a loophole in the parish’s family partition law being employed to skirt subdivision regulations by the development community; and supported green space requirements on new subdivisions.

Fast forward to June 6, 2019 and Turner voted to override President Kenny Matassa’s veto of more stringent fill limitations.  And there’s his moratorium proposal this past Monday.  If you oppose unbridled development in Ascension Parish, Travis Turner has been on the right side of things. 

Disfavoring “rezoning which increase density” is in direct contravention to the Master Plan adopted by Ascension’s Planning Commission on May 29.  Neighborhood Hubs are part of that plan with unstated, limitless density.

Monday’s East Ascension Drainage meeting only yielded a moratorium recommendation to the full Council, so there is plenty left to do.  Any action on fill could very well bring on another presidential veto.  While Travis Turner calls Gonzales home (like Matassa), he did not sign…

the infamous endorsement letter in 2015 (eight of his current colleagues).  Turner did not vote “No Confidence” in Matassa after the president was indicted on felony bribery charges in 2017 (understandable given that Turner is a criminal defense lawyer).

Turner is nothing if not consistent.  His ardent support of recreation is unmatched on the council, occupying the Recreation Committee chair since being inaugurated in 2012.  Newly-appointed on March 15, 2012, Turner described his vision:

  • A sports arena at Lamar Dixon Expo Center;
  • Community Park improvements; and
  • Pursuit of private fundraising.

In March (this year) the Council voted 8-3 to allocate $3 million for recreation projects, most of which is earmarked for “a second gym” at Lamar Dixon Expo Center.  Eschewing a proposal to bond the money out, it will be loaned from Ascension Parish Government’s general fund and repaid from 25% of anticipated annual surplus until the Recreation Department pays it all back.

He favored placing Better Recreation NOW!‘s proposed 5-mill property tax on the ballot (it failed in late 2014), and 2017’s push to divert west bank sales tax revenue from Prevost Hospital to fund recreation facilities.