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Editor’s Note: The Times of Houma-Thibodaux sent each candidate the same list of questions for our readers to learn more about their platforms and what their plans are for the highest office in Terrebonne Parish. We will be publishing their responses this week.
I am Christa Duplantis-Prather, a lifelong resident of Terrebonne Parish, graduated from LSU School of Nursing, Registered Nurse for over 30 years. The daughter of the late Floyd J. Duplantis and Robbie P. Duplantis. Married to Charles Prather, the love of my life we enjoy volunteering in the community and spending time with family, friends, and our rescue pets. I am an active member of the Cathedral of St Francis de Sales Catholic Church, I enjoy serving as an extra ordinary minister, lector and commentor.
1. Why are you running for Terrebonne Parish President? Simply to serve the great people of Terrebonne and I am mad too Terrebonne! Because I am tired of our tax dollars not being used for us, the taxpayers. For too long, just a chosen few have benefitted from government contracts and the tax dollars for the parish. I want to make sure everyone is on a level playing field. I have the time the experience and the passion to serve the people of the Good Earth, Terrebonne
2. As Parish President, what will your three top priorities be?
Cut wasteful spending. Greater accountability and transparency with our tax dollars.
Improve our infrastructure. Make Terrebonne a cleaner, safer, family friendly community once again!
Work to get insurance prices to a normal affordable rate.
3. Economic development: What are your plans to keep existing businesses located in Terrebonne Parish? What are your plans to grow and bring in new businesses? See answer #2.
We need to work better with our existing industries and business by improving our infrastructure and having better incentives. We need to ensure that we are meeting their needs to keep them here locally, yet still be accountable to the people of the parish. We have an excellent airport and port that have the potential to strengthen our economy if we boost their presence.
We need to promote manufacturing jobs that are not necessarily exclusive to the oil and gas industry. There are opportunities within agriculture and retail industries to support growth in manufacturing.
4. Industry: With the current economic challenges our seafood industry is experiencing, what are your plans as Parish President to help sustain and support this particular industry? Work with the State and Federal government to put tariffs on imports so people will buy local. Push and support buying local seafood in our restaurants and supermarkets. Help commercial fishermen be able to export their seafood to other counties.
5. Quality of place: What do you plan to do to increase the quality of place in Terrebonne Parish? See answer #2; if we use our tax dollars wisely, we will have plenty of money to improve our parish. Upkeep of roads, bridges, parks, more sewage lift stations to increase the capacity and offer sewage to communities that do not have connection to parish sewage, and more family-oriented activities. Improve our Infrastructure!
6. Levees: What are your plans to maintain and further develop our levee system and protection, beginning with Morganza to the Gulf? Will continue to push for more hurricane protection by completing and raising the Morganza to the Gulf levee System and meet with our legislatures in Baton Rouge and Congressional Delegation to secure funding for all levee systems and flood protection, Raise the level of the levees to 18 feet and have it certified by the Corps of Engineers; this should assist with lowering the flood insurance rates.
7. Flooding: What are your plans to address and improve flood protection for our citizens, in particular our pumps/pump stations and street drainage systems? Make sure our drainage canals and ditches are cleaned/maintained so the water can make it to the pump stations. Ensure that our pumps/stations are regularly maintained so they are in good working order when the need arises.
8. Infrastructure/Roads: List and prioritize the parish’s infrastructure needs that you will address as parish president.
• Roads and bridges are priority number one. When you cross the parish line coming in, it shouldn’t look like a third world country. No second chance at a first impression. They are deplorable and we should be ashamed that they are in that condition. Maintain the roads we have as well as our bridges in a timely manner.
• Sewage/Water systems
• City Power plant and other utilities electricity and Gas
• Drainage and vegetation overgrowth along the roads needs to be regularly maintained. Would work with the sheriff to possibly get work released inmates to help with this issue.
• Maintaining parish building and property and clean up existing structure.
9. Capital outlay: Do you have any specific capital outlay project requests you would like to make to the state? Yes. I would ask for movies for the improvement of basic infrastructure we have, improvements of Parish and State Roads, bridges, sewage in communities of need, water, electrical grid, City Power Plant, Levee, and drainage systems, improvement on recreation facilities we currently have. I would then get with the Parish Chief Financial Officer and review the budget to see where we need the additional funding for projects to request for Capital Outlay. Then meet with the 9 councilpersons and review the district needs and priorities in each of their districts. Then I would meet with my department heads and review the needs within the entire parish. And listen to all people of Terrebonne from Houma down to the gulf what are their request for Capital Outlay.
10. Homeowners/Business Insurance: What specific plans will you push for with our federal and state legislative delegations to keep insurance rates affordable for our residences and businesses? I will be a voice for the people of Terrebonne and work with the delegation in Baton Rouge as well as the Insurance commissioner to help bring rates down and affordable. Possibly create Insurance reform and review Louisiana Citizens Insurance to be more affordable,
11. Recreation: As Parish President, what are your plans to streamline the operation of the parish supported recreation programs and facilities? How do you plan to attract outside recreational teams and tournaments to our area? See question #2; Answers 1 & 2. No one wants to come to Terrebonne parish when they see what it looks like. We now have the hotel space and restaurants to support outside teams, but we need to make the parish look more appealing to come to.
I would meet with the Recreation Director to review how the people of the parish are utilizing the facilities and programs. With this information I would go back to the council members for input concerning the same in their districts.
Complete the Bayou Country Sports Park and have the manager take an active role in promoting it’s use to outside teams for tournaments.
12. Homelessness: As Parish President, what are your plans to address the homeless issues the parish is currently facing? Try to be more initiative-taking in reaching out to federal programs (HUD) and any State programs which are available to assist the homeless and work with other agencies within the Parish. Also collaborate with the Veterans Administration to start the discussion of a possible veteran’s community for homeless veterans.
13. Ida Issues: What are your plans to address the damage caused by Hurricane Ida to parish-owned and operated properties, including Bayou Towers and Senator Circle? See answer #9.
I would meet with the Chief Financial Officer and the Director of Facilities to review the physical state of the parish owned building and get a greater understanding of what repairs/cost are needed. With this information I can discuss with the CFO to determine if these funds are budgeted or will we have to get monies from Capital Outlay or other sources.
For the Bayou Towers and Senator Circle I would meet with the Houma/Terrebonne Housing Authority Board to decern what plans the board has for rehabilitating or demolition/rebuild of the properties.