Aside from traffic/drainage, what does candidate see as biggest issue for Ascension?

Candidates, in the order they appeared (l-r): Rick Webre, Clint Cointment, Ricky Diggs, Murphy Painter

At Thursday’s forum of candidates for Ascension Parish President the first question asked of the four hopefuls was; Other than drainage and traffic, what do you see as our parish’s biggest issues; and how do you plan to resolve it?

Rick Webre pointed to leadership as primary issue confronting Ascension, with a follow up, integrity.  According to Webre the parish employs “14 or 15 people” devoted to management of all roadside ditches which, if stretched end to end would reach Springfield, Missouri.

“If we don’t invest in our employees, if we don’t invest in their professional development, then we do them a disservice.  Leadership is important, (establishing) a chain of command is important.”

Are we to infer that Webre believes the current workforce, 540 employees strong as of June 5, is unprofessional?  He went on to cite “responsibility and accountability” as necessary elements to instill, along with “basic management systems.”

“Second is integrity,” which Webre cites as a “core value…I believe the parish president should never do anything to deceive anyone.”

This is a theme he’s employed before.  Revisiting the presidential deception motif, does Webre have anything (or anyone) in mind?  We encourage him to elucidate and, by all means, point fingers.

Clint Cointment:

“The No. 1 issue, besides drainage and traffic, is unbridled growth without infrastructure improvements.  It contributes to drainage problems and traffic problems,” he offered citing Major Subdivisions as the culprit worsening other problems.

Cointment, a land surveyor be trade, claims a positive working relationship with Ascension’s Planning Department, qualifying that interaction with the assurance; “I don’t do Major Subdivisions.  I do simple divisions and family partitions.”  He described “a lack of planning…(which resulted in)…countless missed opportunities” to move traffic by connectivity” without overburdening property owners.

“For example, we could’ve required an 80′ right-of-way at the back of all those subdivisions south of Hwy 74.  We could have a parallel access to Hwy 73,” Cointment explained, calling for cooperation with DOTD, “piggybacking on state projects.”

Had the parish added money to DOTD’s recent Hwy 44 improvements, the bridge at William Ficklin Road could have been “four-laned” which would make future widening of Hwy 44 much less costly.

Ricky Diggs singled out “growth that is out of control.  It needs to be bridled.”  His suggested remedy, “government by God with transparency and integrity.”

Murphy Painter claimed to have been the first candidate to advocate limiting growth as “the most important thing going forward.”  But Painter includes it within traffic/drainage issues.

“We have a big sewer infrastructure proposal on the board right now.  Sewage has been an issue for the past 40 years that I’ve been around, we’ve tried to resolve it,” Painter continued.  “They have a proposal on the board now that might be the beginning.  Sewage is very, very important for this parish moving forward.”

“One of the ways you rank a civilization is what they do with their waste,” he closed with a flourish.

Painter recognized the “tremendous amount of good, qualified employees,” none of whom work with the benefit of job descriptions.