Cindi King was elected to the Slidell City Council District G seat in a close runoff election with Glen Sutherland on April 28.
King is a teacher in the St. Tammany Parish School System. She is vice chairman of the Slidell Board of Zoning Adjustments and served on the Country Club Estates Homeowners Association executive board for 15 years.
St. Tammany Farmer editor Andrew Canulette recently sat down with King at Pinewood Country Club, which is in the heart of District G. Following are excerpts from the interview.
It’s been a few weeks since the election. Has everything in your life settled back to normal?
No, of course with my job (as a teacher) I’m wrapping up for the year, so this is always a busy time for me. There also are a lot of meetings for the city that are available to me if I want to participate to garner as much (information) as I can.
What are some of the meetings that you’ve been able to attend? The current council had talked about new members getting to sit in on some of the budget hearings going on right now.
We were given the opportunity to sit in on a staff meeting with the mayor, and we were able to hear some of the issues they are dealing with right now. And then we were able to sit in on the budget meeting for next year, and we were given the opportunity to ask questions. ... We were given the proposed budget from the last few years and the proposed budget for next year so we can look over it and come up with any questions we wanted to ask.
Things like that are helpful to somebody new to the council?
Absolutely. Before the meeting, everybody kept asking ‘Are you excited about it?’ I couldn’t get excited about it because I was too anxious about it. ... But once I sat in on the meetings, I realized I know a lot of this stuff. ... It made me a lot more comfortable, so then I got excited.
How about your experience on the Slidell Board of Zoning Adjustments? Is that a nice segue into the City Council?
Any conversations about zoning (in some of the recent meetings with city officials) were real familiar to me. As far as the budget, no. The only budget information I’ve ever (worked with) was on committees and organizations I’ve been involved with. But a budget this size is (something different.)
(Pinewood) Country Club is a very important part of what goes on in District G ... (The golf course almost was purchased by the city for drainage and finally was sold to new investors.) You had two local businessmen step up to the plate and you’re seeing a reinvigoration in commerce and some new growth here. Tell me a little more about what this place means to District G and to you.
I think the biggest thing Pinewood offers District G is simply property values. We didn’t want this place to go to seed. We looked at presentation after presentation about old golf courses that have been left to go to seed and what that does to the property values. ... This is a great neighborhood, and in my opinion, it’s the best neighborhood in the city.
As (Pinewood) grows and the new event center becomes a reality, I believe that is going to bring a lot more jobs. The golf course should bring more jobs as it starts to prosper, and I believe that it will. ... My daughter got married here, we have had baby showers and we’ve wedding showers here. This place is like part of the family.
What are the most important issues facing your district? What do you want to focus on when you (join the council) July 1?
When I started this campaign, one of the things I talked to people about was drainage. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 30 years and I’ve seen (street) flooding at the entrance of Country Club (Estates) in the last two years. I couldn’t get into the neighborhood one day ... and I had to tell my principal I may not be back at work because my car might flood. That’s a problem, and I’m thinking it’s probably subsurface, but I don’t know.
This canal that surrounds our neighborhood ... used to be cleared of brush with machinery once a year, and I can’t remember the last time it has been done. We’ve got animals living in that ditch — lots of snakes, lots of rodents. It’s not good. And whenever they do cut it, I’m told by neighbors they cut the limbs and they fall down into the ditch. That’s a big problem when you have running water. You want it to be cleared.
One of the other things is code enforcement. It wasn’t part of my platform when I started out, even though being on the homeowners' association board, that’s usually the biggest complaint. Some complaints are boats in the driveway, trash at the driveway, RVs in the driveway, commercial vehicles parking in the yards, abandoned cars in the yards.
Because people drive down here looking to buy a home and they see that next door, do you think they want to buy the house next door? We really haven’t enforced code in a long time. ... That's huge for me, and I want to find ways we can do it ethically and morally, so we aren’t punishing our older people who may have issues taking care of their yards.
Some people think a council representative should look out for his or her neighborhood. Others take a more holistic approach. What do you think?
I’m more holistic because I believe what’s good for my city is good for my constituents, and what is not good for my city is not good for my constituents. ... But if it’s a case where the two aren’t cohesive, then I would side with my district.