EDITOR’s NOTE: Long claiming that he would endorse no candidate to succeed him, Parish President Tommy Martinez accused an unnamed “candidate” of “numerous falsehoods, half truths and outright lies” in a local weekly newspaper advertisement hitting the streets on Thursday. Martinez has consistently said that, when asked, “I will tell people I’m voting for Kenny Matassa” and his not so subtle accusations are clearly aimed at Clint Cointment.
Martinez’ campaign fund did contribute to Matassa’s campaign, and did pay to take out the ad claiming “TOMMY MARTINEZ ENDORSES THE TRUTH!” wherein he defends his lengthy record. What follows is the response from the candidate targeted by President Martinez.
I want to take this opportunity to recognize four-term Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez whose tenure in elective office can be traced back 25 years. Nobody is in a better position to know the accomplishments of parish government than Tommy Martinez who had run in every parish president’s election, ever, until this year. I’m sure that I speak for many in our parish when I express my heartfelt gratitude to you, Mr. Martinez, for decades of service and dedication to the parish that we all love so well.
I must admit to being pleasantly surprised at President Martinez’ list of recent tasks undertaken in his final year in office. Many of them are found in my Flex Plan, over a year in the making, that was unveiled in April. Earlier this year I praised your administration for committing to build a connector road between Edenborne Parkway in Gonzales and St. Landry Rd in front of Lamar Dixon Expo Center. As you noted, construction “is scheduled to begin 1st quarter of 2016.”
Let me assure you, President Martinez, I am going to see that project through if the good people of Ascension elect me to succeed you in January; and not only the current two-lane design. I am committed to realizing the original vision, four lanes to relieve some of the awful traffic congestion from Hwy 30 and provide better access to Lamar Dixon Expo Center.
You claim “More money ($87.8 million) has been spent on road projects, road improvements, and turn lanes during (your) last two terms than in the history of the parish.” Allow me, on behalf of all the citizens of Ascension Parish who spend interminable delays in ever-worsening traffic every day, to applaud your commitment to improving transportation.
I intend to build upon whatever improvements you’ve begun to lessen that burden on our residents.
You correctly note that my Flex Plan called for a protocol to activate drainage pumps during heavy rain events. I applaud your administration for making that a reality as explained by Drainage Director Bill Roux to EA Drainage Board members on Monday. Even better, I heard Mr. Roux promise to alert parish council members, one of whom expressed a total ignorance, of when the pumps are turned on.
We all know how much work you’ve put into improved drainage in furtherance of the Follett Plan that is three decades old. Even though Laurel Ridge Levee extension won’t begin before you retire, Tommy Martinez deserves a great deal of credit when, and if, it finally becomes a reality.
I am glad to see you agree with me that cooperation with neighboring parishes is appropriate when it comes to drainage. I commend you on the Joint Task Force begun with St. James, even though it proceeded without Ascension’s participation. The idea was a good one.
You point out that I want to build a levee around Astroland and Pelican Point. I read with delight your statement: “DONE…Waiting on a permit to build a ring levee around this area.” Since you’ve already done the hard part (permitting) the next parish president’s administration should build that levee to alleviate the drainage issues currently confronting the residents of this area.
I congratulate your efforts to reach an agreement with Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension (CARA) to take over operation of Ascension’s Animal Shelter on December 1. I believe it will go a long way toward satisfying my April call for comprehensive evaluation of the shelter aimed at a more efficient operation with more pet adoptions. I commit to making our shared vision a reality by providing CARA all the assistance Ascension can afford within our budget limitations.
The same goes for expanding the current Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with LSU’s Vet School by exploring the feasibility of utilizing Lamar Dixon’s unused acreage.
You are right, President Martinez, when writing that I call for economic development…
“DONE…DONE…DONE!” you say. “Ascension Parish leads the state in economic investment and growth…Let’s not lose this energy and momentum!’
I couldn’t agree more with the last sentence.
I have called for transparency and an end to wasteful spending. You claim that these aims have been achieved. The citizens of Ascension Parish know the truth.
There is one claim you made that is incorrect. You say I “WANT TO RAID OUR PARISH SURPLUS…NO WAY!!!! The parish ‘rainy day fund’ must stay in place.”
Not to be combative, but I’ve never suggested anything like raiding the General Fund, even though I’ve heard you say it is approaching $30 million. Wasn’t your goal to grow that “rainy day fund” to $20 million? How much is enough?
What I have said is that Ascension must put the, nearly, $40 million in the drainage fund to work fixing the many drainage problems in Ascension Parish.
No one is more surprised than me that we seem to agree on so many issues. So, Parish President Tommy Martinez, allow me to join in your self-congratulatory advertisement as you prepare to exit the parish political stage.
With warmest personal regards,
Candidate for Ascension Parish President
P.S. I know how long you’ve lobbied for comprehensive sewer on Ascension’s east bank, even though your ad omitted the subject. I suggested a public-private partnership earlier this year, an idea that seems to have gained significant traction among the parish council. If I’m elected I’ll do my best to see it through in a manner that does not overburden our citizens with exorbitant fees.
Just thought you might like to know.