Four years ago, state Rep. Erich Ponti was a Baton Rouge contractor running against three other Republicans for the House District 69 seat.
Ponti won the runoff with nearly 63 percent of the vote.
For his re-election bid this year, no one signed up to run against him in the Oct. 22 primary, allowing him to return to office unopposed for a second term.
“The feedback I’m getting from constituents is they’re pleased with the work I’m doing,” Ponti said.
He had a one-word answer for what his district’s greatest need will be in the coming years: “Traffic.”
Ponti said his district needs better light synchronization, more turn lanes and improvements to surface roads.
In the Louisiana Legislature, Ponti is chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations. He also is a member of the House Committee on House and Governmental Affairs.
He said the state as a whole needs more jobs.
Ponti said great strides were made in the past four years to make Louisiana a better place to start and grow a business.
“Reforms that we have made to workforce development, worker’s compensation and business taxes are already beginning to pay dividends,” he said. “Going forward, we need to focus on removing obstacles to economic growth and improving outcomes of secondary and post-secondary education.”
At Gov. Bobby Jindal’s urging, the Legislature agreed in 2008 to accelerate the phase-out of certain business taxes.
More recently, the state is struggling with financial problems largely caused by a dip in the revenue that the federal government sends to Louisiana.
The money woes are forcing legislators to decide whether to embrace tax increases or spending cuts.
Ponti said he is opposed to more taxes.
“It is no secret that we have had to make some difficult decisions over the last few years, however these choices have been no more difficult than what families across Louisiana face every day,” he said. “The solution to declining revenue is not to burden the hardworking men and women of our state with more taxes.”
The better solution, Ponti said, is to expand existing businesses and to attract new businesses.
Of his four years as a legislator, he said he is proudest of sponsoring the House’s redistricting plan to account for population changes mapped in the 2010 U.S. census.
The U.S. Department of Justice accepted the proposed changes in how districts are drawn without kicking them back to the House for tweaking.
The U.S. Census Bureau shows that nearly 18 percent of people in Louisiana were living below the poverty level in 2009.
Ponti said the solution to escaping poverty is quality education.
“Louisiana education is in a state of crisis,” he said. “We need to reform our public education system in such a way that increases school choice and parental control. Continued failure is not an option.”
Republican, Baton Rouge.
EDUCATION: B.S., Northeast Louisiana University, now the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: State representative.
WHERE TO VOTE
Ward/Precinct and location
East Baton Rouge Parish
1-9 Sharp Road Recreation Center
1-34 Goodwood Elementary
1-49 LaSalle Elementary
1-52 Broadmoor Elementary
1-53 Broadmoor High
1-60 Broadmoor Middle
1-72 Cedarcrest-Southmoor Elementary
1-74 Tara High
1-80 Drusilla Lane Park Recreation Center
1-99 Parkview Elementary
3-3 Woodlawn Baptist Church
3-7 BREC Cedar Ridge Recreation Center
3-11 Fire station
3-15 Shenandoah Elementary
3-27 Court Plaza Building
3-31 Westminster Elementary
3-9 Jefferson Terrace Elementary
3-41 Jones Creek Regional Library