DENHAM SPRINGS — Livingston Parish Council candidates speaking at a public forum Tuesday night called for animal control, a parishwide sewer system and improved roads.
More than 100 people heard 14 candidates from seven of nine council districts describe their visions for the parish.
Many of their comments weren’t kind to the current council or to the way the parish is spending road-fund money.
“The council is a three-ring circus,” said Elvis Turbeville, one of two candidates running against Council Chairman Randy Rushing, who did not attend the meeting.
“We need transparency,” said Chance Parent, the other candidate in the District 1 race.
Parent pledged to “unlock the door of the good ole boys.”
In what became an echoing refrain, Parent said the council should make sure the roads it blacktops benefit numerous people and not just one or two.
“Our road priority system is flawed and needs to be re-evaluated,” said Jim Norred, one of three candidates running for the District 2 seat. Roads and traffic congestion are the biggest issues in the parish, Norred said.
Gene Bush, who is seeking that seat, said he has political experience in getting roads built, and promised to form an advisory board from people of all walks of life in his district.
Dean Erwin, who is also running the District 2 seat, said he decided to run for the office after watching the council on the Internet and laughing.
“Until we have a council that is going to work with the parish president and with each other,” the parish can’t progress, he said.
Chad Pope, a challenger in District 3, said that if elected, he would attempt to see that parish contracts are discussed between the parish president and the council in public sessions.
He was one among numerous candidates to push for building a Juban Road extension from U.S. 190 to Lockhart Road.
Cindy Wale, the incumbent in District 3, said she led a battle to get improvements made to Eden Church Road and that the project will begin in January.
Wale said she has fought the council’s “paving driveways to nowhere,” and said the council must prioritize road projects.
She promised to work to improve traffic flow.
Chris Davis, the challenger in District 4, said the parish has played a “shell game” with its road money.
“We were sold a promise of better roads” with a road sales tax, but the money, Davis said, has been “mismanaged.”
District 4 Councilman Marshall Harris said virtually every parish road has been overlaid.
He promised to work for money to extend Juban Road and to create an interchange at Interstate 12 and Pete’s Highway.
Harris also said he wants to see a parish master plan move forward as a blueprint for “smart growth,” and said the parish needs a parishwide animal control program as well as parishwide sewer and water systems.
Joan Landry, the challenger in District 5, said the parish road overlay program doesn’t have standards for major roads that are as strong as the standards for subdivision roads.
She complained that a sewer district being put into her area by the Denham Springs City Council has no representation from District 5, which gives people from that district no say in the rates.
Landry said she would fight to see that any future expansion into her district will include representation from people who live in the district.
Sewer and water projects are expanding in the parish, but not at the needed rate, said Councilman A.C. “Buddy” Mincey, who represents District 5.
Mincey said roads will continue to be a challenge for the parish, but that the biggest challenge facing the new council will be how to deal with the costs of the Hurricane Gustav cleanup if the federal government refuses to pay the bill.
Scott Jones, the only one of three candidates from District 6 to appear at the forum, said roads, sewage, drainage and a technical college are among the parish’s needs.
Jones said he, too, wants to see the council come up with a road priority list.
“The road tax has been spent on parking lots and driveways,” Jones said, adding that the council has taken many substandard, private roads into the parish road system.
Ricky Goff, who is running for the District 7 seat, said that experience he gained from serving as a Walker alderman helps him know what is needed to take a road from two lanes to five.
Goff said he is amazed that the parish has moved forward as much as it has, given the current makeup of the Parish Council.
Councilman Thomas Watson of District 7 said he wants to see the parish buy land needed for the Juban Road extension.
He also cited the need for animal control, recycling and improved sewage.
Citizens for Highways and Infrastructure for Livingston Parish hosted the forum.