GONZALES — Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez praised his administration’s enhancement of recreation and handling of parish finances in a down economy while promising to continue managing growth and improving infrastructure if re-elected this fall.

Martinez pointed to the purchase of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center with a collection of state and federal grants and appropriations, upgrades at Oak Grove Community Park, extensive work on roads, and drainage projects large and small as among his administration’s accomplishments.

“My administration is getting things done and getting them done in the right way,” he said in a campaign announcement.

In the Oct. 22 primary, Martinez, a former police juror and a Darrow native, is seeking a fourth term as parish president and his second consecutive term since 2008. He is running as a political independent.

He was elected Ascension’s first parish president in 1992 and was re-elected to the first full four-year term in 1994.

Martinez is facing activist Kathryn Goppelt to lead what was Louisiana’s fastest growing parish between 2000 and 2010. Ascension grew at a rate just less than 40 percent, slightly outpacing Livingston Parish’s growth rate, census data show.

“Effectively managing the growth of our parish while attracting new jobs and economic opportunities for our citizens is one of our biggest challenges,” Martinez said.

He added parish officials are working with the state to improve major traffic arteries while the parish has resurfaced 250 parish streets and highways.

Martinez noted the parish’s improved bond rating and consistent high marks in financial audits while road and other infrastructure improvements were made.

He said they are “clear signs that my administration is doing an excellent job managing the parish’s $106 million budget and the people’s money.”

Despite the downturn and lower parish sales tax revenues, Martinez said, the parish has an $11 million budget surplus and has secured $51 million in grants to improve “quality of life.”