Ascension Assessor Mert” Smiley campaigns on his record while challenger says constituents are unhappy _lowres

M.J. "Mert" Smiley Jr.

Incumbent Ascension Parish Assessor M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. beat Paulette Porter LaBostrie in his re-election bid Saturday, taking 75 percent of the vote.

LaBostrie earned 25 percent of the vote.

Seeking his second term, Smiley, a Republican, has pointed to his track record in initiating an aerial imagery project that brought 6,000 previously unassessed properties and improvements to the tax rolls. Those and other changes have boosted local governments’ property tax revenue by a combined $18.1 million without raising tax rates.

But LaBostrie, a Prairieville real estate lawyer, has run, in part, against that effort, charging it was applied unfairly and raised taxes for many residents while others did not see such increases. But her own tax-paying history has come into question as LaBostrie has been embroiled in a legal fight in Iberville Parish over back taxes on a Porter family home in St. Gabriel. After fighting in court for two years to save the home sold at a tax sale in 2009 because she said she never received notice of past due tax bill, LaBostrie has recently claimed she never actually owned the home and, therefore, the bill is not hers.

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