City council election Only two incumbents face opposition here

Deidre Cruse

Former Plaquemine selectman Hebert Jefferson Sr. is District III  post from incumbent Ralph Stassi Jr., while Joel Ducote is challenging incumbent Timothy L. “Timmy Martinez in District V in Saturday’s election.

The four other incumbents on the city’s Board of Selectmen won re-election without opposition – Lindon A. “Lin” Rivet Jr. in District I, Oscar S. Mellion in District II, Michael “Mickey” Rivet in District IV and Jimmie “Fatboy” Randle in District VI.

DISTRICT III

District III comprises precincts 14A, 14B, 19 and 20, along with part of Precinct 14.

Jefferson, who previously served two terms on the city council, is making city utility bills his sole issue in his race to win his seat back from Stassi, who won their head-to head contest by a two-to-one margin four years ago.

“We should get a grip on this utility department,” Jefferson said. “These bills are too high. People can’t pay them. It’s ridiculous.”

He said it wasn’t fair for people on fixed incomes to have to decide whether to buy medicine or food or pay their utility bills so they would not get cut off.

Referring to the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority (LEPA) and City Light & Water, Jefferson said the city should eliminate “these middle people” and do business directly with Entergy.

He also said he was looking for the council to help the mayor.

“The mayor needs help,” the challenger said. “He doesn’t know all the answers. Nobody knows all the answers. We can’t let one man make decisions for everybody.”

Stassi said he, too, was looking for ways for the city to offer people the lowest possible electrical rates.

“I’ve been working on that for five or six years,” he said. “I have issues on that. I want to do something about it.”

But, Stassi said, his major interest was keeping his promise to get the city’s new sewage treatment plant built.

“The sewer plant is all but started. We have the money, the right of way, the land,” he said. “I want to make sure this sewer plant gets built before I leave office. That’s my main objective. If Plaquemine is to grow, we’ve certainly got to provide sewer and water.”

He said he was also interested in moving a road program forward.

“I think they are getting bad,” Stassi said, worried about the cost of the program because of the escalating cost of fuel. “Everything has doubled in cost since I got on the city council.”

“We have to use our budget and use it wisely,” he said. “I have only one vote on the council, but I intend to be cost effective in all departments. I want to leave the city in good shape.”

“I have the knowledge and experience and the thought in my heart that I want to do what I can for the people,” he said. “That’s the only reason I’m running. I don’t make any money. I give part of my salary to the Council on Aging,” plus contributions to other local causes.

District V

District V comprises parts of precincts 15A, 17, 17A and 18.

Ducote, who works for the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil and Water Conservation program, said he wants to make sure District V gets its fair share of the city’s attention.

Ducote served as an appointive member of the city council after former selectman Edwin M. Reeves Jr. was elected to the Iberville Parish Council, but said he kept his promise not to run for re-election then.

“If I’m elected, I’m going to be very visible to [constituents],” Ducote said. “I will be up and down the streets.”

He said he hopes to improve drainage in the district, one of the newest parts of the city. A number of constituents are asking for sidewalks, he said, adding he would look for streets that could accommodate them.

“I will be available to them,” Ducote said. “If they need me, I’m just a phone call away. If I don’t know about it already, I’ll learn it from them.”

“Everybody can promise you the moon, but they can’t lower your utility bills,” Ducote commented on the issue du jour.

Martinez led a six-candidate field in the primary race for the post four years ago, and prevailed in the general election. He is seeking his second term.

“I think I’m doing a good job,” said Martinez, who is an operator at Oxychem in Geismar. “...I enjoy it. I enjoy being out there helping people. As long as I can do things to help people, I enjoy it.”

As achievements from his first term, the incumbent cited major drainage work on Holly Drive and another project on Edmund Drive, as well as the rebuilding of Charles Drive and most of Sherwood Drive.

“I think we’ve had a good four years,” he said. “There have been a lot of new businesses.”

“Right now, all you hear about is utility bills,” Martinez said.

He said he thought that after the sewerage improvements, the city most needs a road program a road program.

“They’re in bad shape. It’s something we’re going to have to look at real hard,” Martinez said. “The storm slowed us down a whole lot. We spent a lot of money on this storm. It messed up our utility system...We’re pretty much back to normal now.”