[StBernard] Candidates want to hasten storm recovery

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Oct 3 20:17:58 EDT 2007

Candidates want to hasten storm recovery
by The Times-Picayune
Tuesday October 02, 2007, 9:41 PM
By Paul Rioux
St. Bernard bureau

The four candidates for the St. Bernard Parish Council District A seat agree
on at least one thing: The parish's post-Hurricane Katrina recovery has been
sluggish and would benefit from an infusion of new ideas and leadership.

"I'm just generally fed up with the way things are going," candidate Peter
Rupp said in a typical statement of discontent. "I think we need some new
faces on the council."

That's guaranteed to happen in District A, as one-term incumbent Mark Madary
is vacating the seat to run for the 103rd District House seat.

Vying to replace Madary in the Oct. 20 election are Fred Delise, Ray Lauga
Jr., Rupp and Chris San Marco.

District A includes all of Arabi and parts of western Chalmette. The
position pays $7,200 a year.

Delise, 65, who is retired after 25 years in the insurance industry,
criticized parish officials for taking what he views as an unnecessarily
combative approach in seeking recovery funding from FEMA.

"What we need is some businesslike finesse," he said. "Instead, it has been
more like a crude demand for money."

Delise, whose campaign signs include the phrase "Jesus is Lord," called for
prayer and Bible studies in public schools.

"I'm a born-again Christian, and I want to bring Christian values and morals
to government," he said.

Lauga, 39, called the parish's recovery "virtually nonexistent," blaming the
slow pace on parish officials' apparent desire to try to please everyone by
avoiding tough decisions.

"They were so worried about turning one person off from returning that they
turned off droves of people because no decisions were being made," he said.

Lauga, an architect, criticized the Parish Council's decision to grant
exceptions to zoning ordinances banning mobile homes in some neighborhoods,
saying it will reduce property values and is unfair to those who rebuilt
their homes.

"We need to stop worrying about trying to bring people back and start doing
what's best for the people who have already returned," he said. "It's time
to focus on smart growth instead of the Wild West mentality of anything

Rupp, 28, who owns a courier service, said the parish needs to develop a
comprehensive plan to deal with blighted homes, overgrown lots and trash

"People can only walk out of their homes so many times and see this garbage
all around them before they give up," he said.

Rupp's ideas for jump-starting the parish's recovery include a tax amnesty
for businesses struggling to return, fixing drainage pumps and promoting

"One of the most important historical locations in the southern United
States is the Chalmette Battlefield," he said. "Let's capitalize on that by
getting bus companies and tour groups to encourage tourists visiting New
Orleans to spend a day in St. Bernard."

San Marco, 66, a retired military auditor, said he wants to serve as a
"scrupulous watchdog" over the parish's finances.

"We need somebody who can really watch the money, move it around and make
sure everything is done efficiently and effectively," he said.

Citing the demands of the parish's nascent recovery, San Marco vowed to work
full-time on council business.

"Because I'm retired, the business of St. Bernard Parish is my only
business," he said. "I'm willing and eager to serve."

Paul Rioux can be reached at prioux at timespicayune.com or (504)¤826-3321.

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