PORT ALLEN — West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot is seeking a third term in office in the Oct. 22 primary election.
Berthelot, a Democrat from Addis, said the parish has taken several steps forward during his administration and now ranks eighth in the state in terms of growth.
Berthelot said he is seeking re-election in order to keep the parish moving forward.
“I like the job and I like helping people,” he said. “My record and my accomplishments speak for themselves.”
Berthelot specifically notes that since 2000, he has been working on building an estimated $30 million roadway, or connector route, linking La. 415 in Port Allen to La. 1 in the southern part of the parish.
The connector route, which could be completed by 2013, Berthelot has said, is intended to reduce traffic congestion, a major concern for parish residents.
“We just completed our parish’s master plan and people want to see improved transportation options that can lead to future development,” Berthelot said. “We’ve been working for more than 10 years on this and I want to se it through.”
If re-elected, Berthelot said, he would also focus on increasing recreational opportunities for residents, including building walking trails.
His challenger, Philip Mason, also a Democrat from Addis, said he would like to see parish resources more evenly distributed to spark economic growth.
Mason said Erwinville and the north end of the parish have been neglected in recent years.
“We’ve failed in a lot of areas,” Mason said. “Our infrastructure, commercial and residential growth aren’t what they should be, especially compared to our surrounding parishes.”
Sparking growth throughout the parish would have a domino effect and would lead to improved student achievement in parish schools, he said.
Mason said his vision for the parish also includes family-friendly mixed-use developments stretching from the north of Erwinville to Addis.
“We don’t want to become overcrowded, but we can do more to make sure our neighborhoods are growing and thriving,” Mason said. “If we had more family-friendly growth, we would have more resources, which is needed because of the recent drop in revenue.”
Mason further said, if elected, he would focus on attracting more retail shops to the parish.
“I think because of my age, I can get the youth more involved in the community,” Mason said. “I’ll be accessible and I will market this parish. We have the perfect location and character to attract families to make West Baton Rouge their home.”
Early voting in the Oct. 22 primary election runs from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Sundays starting this Saturday and extending through Saturday, Oct. 15.
Riley ‘Pee Wee’ Berthelot
Addis, 61, West Baton Rouge Parish president.
EDUCATION: Electrical instrumentation degree, Northwest Vocational School.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: West Baton Rouge Parish Council and West Baton Rouge Parish president.
Addis, 29, Port Allen assistant chief financial officer.
EDUCATION: B.S., SU.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.