There are numerous recreation programs currently available to all citizens in Lafayette Parish through the Lafayette Parks & Recreation Department. If the Lafayette City Council were to closely examine the dozens of programs available to kids and seniors, then we could determine which programs are popular, and which programs could be altered to meet popular demand. I will be a representative for my constituents in City District #1. Your question assumes that "I have all the answers." I will listen to my constituents, as any good representative would, and will strive to meet their needs and desires. My constituents have the answer to your question.
What will you do to move more public resources to repairing and improving roads and other infrastructure in our district?
Lafayette Parish residents pay 4.17 mills on their property tax bill for "road & bridge improvement," which generates $9.5 million dollars annually. All property tax millages need to be scrutinized and revised to serve the basic needs of government in the wisest and most efficient way possible. Road and bridge maintenance is a vital government service, and citizens are demanding that Lafayette government focus more on road/bridge improvement. We must reduce property taxes (millages) that receive too much annual money, and increase property millages that are not receiving enough money, such as the LCG roads and bridges fund.
How will you promote sustainable economic development on Lafayette’s Northside without inviting gentrification?
Gentrification means "the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste." The implication of your question is that gentrification is a bad thing. Economic development is possible when an investor sees an area that has pride in its immediate surroundings and environment. Investors want to locate to an area where roadside cleanliness and maintenance of residential yards and businesses are visual pleasing. "Optics," or the visual appeal of an area, speaks volumes in creating a first impression. I will work tirelessly to organize clean-ups of those areas that need to be improved; I did this for 27 years as an LCG employee in the Environmental Division. I will instill pride and ownership in those areas that need economic development, then I will seek out investors and sell them on the merits of that pride and ownership. I will be an ambassador for City District #1. I will be an active, full-time leader, not a passive observer, for Lafayette's north side. Passivity has not improved Lafayette's north side, but passivity and lack of action is what previous council members have provided for Lafayette's north side. Words are cheap. It's time for true leadership and action.
How will you expand access in our district to vital community services like healthcare, good housing and healthy food?
As a full-time council representative, I will provide assistance to constituents with healthcare, housing, or nutritional issues. Some local agencies can assist with these issues, but much of the assistance with these issues comes from state and federal programs. I will be a clearinghouse of information to assist my constituents. Your question omits a vital element of service necessary to any community. That is, the elderly and disabled always need assistance. As a full-time ambassador for all my constituents, I will learn the system, and fully utilize all services — whether local, state, or federal — that are available to those who need assistance.
How will you address blight, particularly widespread litter, the abundance of abandoned homes and adjudicated properties on Lafayette’s Northside?
Mark Pope will be a hands-on, full-time council representative for City Council District #1. I performed litter clean-ups throughout my 27-year career in the Environmental Division of Lafayette Consolidated Government. I will organize and execute periodic clean-ups of District #1. Talk is cheap, and action speaks loudly. We must instill pride and a sense of ownership throughout District #1. The issue of abandoned homes, blight, and adjudicated properties is a complicated one. Government cannot take action on abandoned, blighted, and adjudicated homes until the bureaucratic process has been completed. Homes that are a danger to the community (e.g., structurally dangerous or a haven for vagrants or crime) must be given urgent attention. I will be an ambassador to expedite these issues, and improve the surrounding neighborhood(s). One remedy to abandoned property is to have adjacent neighbors cut grass and maintain the property for one year — this is a standing state law. After one year, the adjacent landowner is given ownership of the property at a nominal cost. This has never been promoted, nor used, by previous LCG administrations. I will explore all options to improve City District #1, and will be a leader in following initiatives through to completion.
Meet the candidates for Lafayette's city council
The Daily Advertiser, 10/03/2019
Five candidates run for toss-up minority seat on new Lafayette city council
The Daily Advertiser, 09/19/2019