ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Two Republicans are left in the race for Ascension Parish president. The winner will replace Tommy Martinez who has announced he is retiring.
Voters would expect candidates to make their final rounds in the days leading up to a run-off election. But in Ascension Parish, that commitment has gone beyond just shaking hands.
Land surveyor Clint Cointment was disgusted as he toured Darrow Community Park. Rusted swing sets, overgrown weeds, and fire ant piles have made the playground an unsafe eyesore.
"We spend $3 million to $3.5 million a year. I guess I'm just shocked that with that amount of money we can't do the basic necessary maintenance in order for our people to enjoy our parks here," Cointment said.
Cointment said he began building his campaign for parish president two and a half years ago after becoming frustrated with traffic, drainage, and other problems that appeared to lack solutions.
"We have to ask ourselves, why are we not doing better? Is this the status quo because it seems to be? And I know that is my objective to do better than this," Cointment said.
Kenny Matassa, who has been a Gonzales City councilman for 19 years, said he has a knack for working with others to complete major projects.
"I have a true track record. All you have to do is look at things we have done in the city. That I can do in the parish," Matassa said.
He said as parish president he plans to work with others to continue improving roads, expanding industry and jobs.
"Once a month I'm going to have a meeting with every entity, the sheriff's office, the school board, assessors, and clerk of courts to let the right hands know what the left is doing," Matassa said.
Matassa said he might have just found a temporary fix to traffic congestion. In addition to synchronizing traffic lights, Matassa said he is reaching out to industry leaders.
"If I can get this gr ant for off-site parking and get with all the plants to change shifts at a half hour time we could use the bus system to bring these people to work and back to their cars. That would be huge on its own," Matassa said.
The candidates are in the home stretch of their campaigns. On November 21, voters will decide which man will get the job.
Only 38 percent of voters turned out for the October 24 primary election. Both candidates said they are spending their final days encouraging everyone to get out and vote.