Five Morgan City residents campaigning to become the city’s next mayor stomped their platforms among one other this week during a St. Mary Parish Chamber Eggs and Issues Breakfast.
During the breakfast, the five candidates – Larry Bergeron, Lee Dragna, Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi III, Bart Mancuso, and Kevin Voisin, touted their ideas, ranging from an aqua pool for rehabilitation, a skate park, marketing and housing programs, a city economic development board, and a citywide neighborhood watch program.
Bergeron, presently a Morgan City councilman, said he has 28 years of experience in working with the city in some fashion, whether on the council, as chief administrative officer or on committees.
Bergeron said because so many of the city’s elderly have orthopedic surgery, one of the things he would like to do is find funds to aid that cause, preferably in Lake End Park, a rehabilitation pool for the elderly and others to do water exercise therapy.
On economic development, Bergeron said that while he is for luring new business to the city, he feels like not enough is done for those that are already here. He said that as mayor, he will be in regular touch with the state Department of Commerce for assistance, especially with various programs that they have to offer.
On litter, Bergeron said he will work with the police to develop a ticket system for anyone littering. “Litter isn’t a once a month problem, it’s an everyday problem, and we need to stop people who want to litter our city, everyday.”
The councilman said his biggest issue is to destroy the wall that people perceive, is around city hall and the police department.
“I’m going to knock their perceptions down,” he said. “I am going to bring City Hall to the people and the people to city hall. I also have plans to destroy the perceptions of the police department – it’s them, and then us.”
Lee Dragna, said his experience as an oilfield business owner are what the city needs, because Morgan City is “95 percent an oilfield town.”
Dragna said he owns multiple companies. In total, he said his companies presently have 60 employees. He said he is about to bump that total to 100, with pending work he has on hand.
“People ask me how can you be a mayor with all of your work responsibilities,” Dragna said. “I tell them it’s because of the good people I have working for me. I understand the needs of the oilfield, and I can bring that industry back here. Morgan City has good people, but it needs better leadership.”
Dragna said his motto is to see the unexpected, plan for the worst and hope for the best. He indicated that this has never really been applied to the city’s electrical department, which has been plagued with occasional blackouts since a transformer exploded at the power plant in late June.
He said that he is a big proponent of activities for kids. Since the city’s swimming pool is open only two months out of the year, Dragna said he would like to look at draining the water and bolting skate park ramps inside of the pool to turn the area into a skate park.
Dragna also said he would like to create a fishing pond for kids to fish.
The mayoral candidate said the dirt from this pond could be used to create and build the required levee protection the city needs in order to create more housing.
Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi III, said his biggest asset to bring to city hall is customer service.
“My family has been in retail for more than 90 years. People don’t have to shop with us, so that’s why we go the extra mile with customer service,” Grizzaffi said. “I can take that extra mile customer service to city hall, in attracting new business here. This race is about who has the best ideas, who can make this community better.”
He said as a business owner, he is “licking his chops” on how to tackle the city’s $37 million budget, to best provide for the city, including the city’s 238 employees and their families.
“We have diamonds in the ruff – Lake End Park and the Municipal Auditorium,” Grizzaffi said.
“They’re making money, but there is nothing wrong with making more money. We don’t need to wait for the phone to ring, we have to promote these facilities. We can’t expect things to fall into our laps anymore.”
Grizzaffi said too many of the city’s neighboring areas “pat us on the back,” while they steal our people. Next, they will be stealing our businesses.”
He said the city doesn’t need new ordinances, because all of the old ones still aren’t and don’t get enforced. “Until that happens, we don’t need any new ones.”
“Our community is aging, the young people have moved. We need to start fresh, and see the vision of opportunity,” he added.
Bart Mancuso said he is the only candidate with 37 years of experience in Morgan City government, and the only candidate with a college degree. He retired earlier this year as the city’s director of Parks and Recreation.
He said his deep-rooted love for Morgan City is the reason why he should be its next mayor.
“I would like to develop an economic development commission comprising of every type of business owner we have in this city, to work hand in hand with the chamber, to bring new industry here, and to pump up our present business and industry professionals.”
“Your children are a reflection of the community where you live. I know mine have been.”
“Now, we have to find the ways to keep them here.”
Touting his experience as having taken the city’s Lake End Park from an eye soar status in the 70s into becoming one of the finest parks in the United States, Mancuso said he is a fiscal conservative and that he can’t stand to see public money wasted.
“We all want dependable electricity and quality streets and recreation programs. Our police and fire departments need the proper tools to keep us all safe.
“It’s time to market Morgan City.”
Kevin Voisin said his experience as a St. Mary Parish councilman representing Morgan City for the past 12 years makes him the right choice as mayor.
“I have expertise in preparing and balancing budgets, having served on the parish council finance committee.
“Now, I’m looking to create a genuine collaboration between government and business, so that we can sell Morgan City to prospective businesses.”
“City Hall belongs to the people, and I’m going to make sure it gets returned to them, reliable electricity, state and federal grants, whatever it takes,” he said.
Voisin said he also wants to create more playgrounds, establish a citywide neighborhood watch program and create a Morgan City Night Out Against Crime.