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|Buttita says Monroe wastes money|
For Monroe resident Jack Buttita, the city of Monroe has much in common with cities of similar size throughout the country.
"We have the same capabilities and potential of any other American city," Buttita said. "But no one is guiding the city in the right direction."
Buttita cited what he called unrealized potential as the primary reason he decided to seek the office of mayor.
The mayoral election is Feb. 9.
"Everybody talks about 'economic development' but I think the city and the community itself needs to invest in Monroe and quit relying on outsiders," Buttita said. "In other words, stop investing in the stock market and start investing in your city."
In an interview with The Ouachita Citizen, the 43-year-old Monroe native pointed to a number of areas in which he believes Monroe could make improvements.
"Right now, Monroe is a bad investment, so I can understand their caution," Buttita said. "But we need to make the transition and come out of this depression and bring this city into the 21st century."
According to Buttita, one area the city should address is waste management.
"We don't recycle – unlike every other city in the United States," Buttita said. "We've got to have a city-owned landfill so we can have the ability to recycle as well as draw from all the surrounding communities. We want to recycle all the garbage."
A possible benefit to recycling could be utilizing methane gas to generate electricity for city use, Buttita said.
Buttita said his first order of business, if elected, would be to establish a top-shelf transition team to examine operations throughout the city.
"I would like to form a committee, take one or two business leaders from each district, and analyze the whole budget department-by-department and look at where we can cut costs," Buttita said.
On his first day as mayor, Buttita said his first act would be to call members of that transition team with a message.
"On day one, I'll call that committee and tell them we're already running late," Buttita said. "The first meeting is right now; 'let's get started.'"
Buttita said he would work to cut the budget by cutting or eliminating operating expenses.
"The bottom line is quit wasting the tax payer's money," Buttita said. "Quit throwing away their hard-earned dollars."
Buttita pointed to what he termed wasteful spending throughout city departments.
"We're wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on things that are irrelevant to the city of Monroe," Buttita explained. "If we spent the money the way it should be spent, we would have a beautiful zoo, an up-to-date civic center and an airport with proper facilities. The city's facilities are out of date."
One possible area of savings Buttita said he would explore would be to eliminate spending money on expensive studies.
"We have ULM to do these studies," Buttita said. "We don't have to go to Texas or to New York. We've got a university right here we're not utilizing."
The father of seven, Buttita said he wants to create a community where people want to live and raise their children.
"We have what I call lateral growth," Buttita said. "There isn't new development coming in, but rather businesses are moving from one area to new areas."
Buttita would instead like to see new business growth and innovation, he said.
"If we're going to make a change, let it be profitable," Buttita said. "Don't spend money that's not going to help on the marketing. We don't market anything in this city. There is no marketing strategy."
Possible marketing solutions range from the complex to the simple, Buttita said. City officials should work to raise awareness of the various city-owned and operated attractions, such as the airport, recreation centers and parks.
"For example, why doesn't the present administration having some of their announcements at the zoo?" Buttita said.
Doing so, Buttita said, would raise awareness of the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo as a possible tool for drawing visitors to Monroe.
Buttita graduated ULM with a degree in health and human performance. He has operated a number of businesses, including convenience stores and a real estate development company.
Currently, Buttita said he is building a new truck stop in Richwood.
Buttita will face four other candidates in the February election.
They are Clint Thomas, Ali Moghimi, Tony Little and incumbent mayor, Jamie Mayo.