DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Economic development, business regulations, and building relationships with a nearly brand new City Council are just some of the challenges facing the future mayor of Denham Springs. They were also the topics of several questions asked of the two men vying for the job, Gerard Landry and John Wascom, during a debate hosted by the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night.
Each candidate was asked three questions and given two minutes to answer. His opponent was then given one minute for rebuttal. At the conclusion, both candidates were given the chance to make a closing statement.
Economic growth was a big focus of much of the questions. Both Landry and Wascom have experience in business and with the city. Landry has worked on the city's Planning and Zoning Committee and Wascom served as a long time City Council member. While both agree that the city needs to embrace economic growth and welcome new business, they have different approaches.
When asked about how to best attract a hypothetical corporation interested in building in Denham Springs, Landry said he would make sure the business suited the city. In contrast, Wascom said the city should accommodate any big business that would like to invest.
"We've got to be pro-business in Denham Springs, and not pretend that we are better than some of these businesses or that we're too good for them," said Wascom.
"Jobs are very, very important for all of our citizens. If they produce sales tax that we can use, that's obviously going to be a big factor in whether we want them here or not," countered Landry.
A question concerning a food truck ordinance pending before the City Council stirred the most passionate responses during the otherwise calm debate.
There is currently one food truck running in Denham Springs. The city is considering an ordinance that would serve up strict regulations in the industry. Landry said safety guidelines are very important and that the city should focus on "brick and mortar businesses." Wascom opposes the ordinance. He worries the ordinance unfairly targets the single food truck owner and will discourage business.