St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister began her second term in office Monday with a pomp-filled inauguration ceremony on the steps of the St. Tammany Justice Center, promising a future in which St. Tammany is the “premier community” in the state and region.
Brister and 14 Parish Council members took their oaths of office at noon before a small crowd of family, friends, elected officials and members of the public who braved frigid temperatures to watch the proceedings.
Parish Council members, accompanied by spouses or family members, emerged from the courthouse to music provided by students from Covington High School.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise served as master of ceremonies, reprising his role from Brister’s first inauguration. A raft of judges, lawyers and 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery took turns swearing in the 15 officials, who were elected in the fall.
Brister called the start of her second term humbling and gratifying, citing the level of support that she has received from the community. She also praised the investment St. Tammany residents have in their parish.
“Together, we are St. Tammany. We are one St. Tammany,” she said. “We may come from different towns, cities and villages within these 854 square miles, but we are bound by what matters most to us — our pasts, our present and our future.”
Brister hailed achievements from her first term including an emphasis on economic development and the creation of the St. Tammany Levee, Drainage and Conservation District, which she said will give the parish more control over local flood protection efforts.
She also addressed what she called “timeless, multigenerational projects” as part of the parish’s future, including a cultural arts district off La . 21 that she has championed; the St. Tammany Advanced Campus in the Lacombe area, which had its groundbreaking last year; and Safe Haven, the mental health facility that the parish is developing at the former Southeast Louisiana Hospital.
After the ceremony, Brister predicted that Safe Haven would be the signal accomplishment of her tenure in office, calling it a need that the parish stepped up to meet.
Brister also told reporters that job creation has been a key achievement. St. Tammany does an outstanding job of educating its children, she said, and economic development will allow families to keep their sons and daughters in the same parish after graduation.
Monday’s festivities, which followed an inaugural ball at the Northshore Harbor Center on Friday, began with an ecumenical service at Covington’s Fuhrmann Auditorium. Local pastors read Bible passages and made brief remarks on what were called the pillars of a healthy community: freedom, justice, wisdom, truth, mercy, charity and leadership.
Pastor Stephen Robinson, of Church of the King in Mandeville, delivered the main address on leadership. He was effusive in his praise of Brister, calling her a righteous leader with a big heart who could have done anything with her life but who answered the call to service.
“It is a gift from God to be under her leadership,” he said.
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