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|Mayo pledges to plow ahead|
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said voters should look at the last six years to see what to expect if they vote to re-elect him to another term in the Feb. 9 election.
Mayo noted that when he became mayor following the death of Melvin Rambin, the city was barely over $250,000 in the black.
"My platform is based on signs of progress that have occurred over the last six years, such as the $11.6 million, record fund balance surplus, establishing two economic development funds that helped to bring Accent and 550 jobs to Monroe, to support in a big way the Greater Ouachita Port and recruit American Eagle Airlines back to Monroe, restoring the Monroe-Dallas direct flight, in addition to several other major projects we've done," Mayo said.
"At the same time, we are laying a positive foundation that was attractive to Chase, where Chase made a decision to expand their operation by bringing in an additional 250 jobs to Monroe and closing down their operations in Lexington, Ky.," Mayo said.
Mayo said that was one instance in which Monroe was more competitive than another city and serves as an indicator to the progress the region has made since State Farm closed its regional office here.
"When State Farm shut down, that was a huge story -- and it should have been," Mayo said. "But it should be an equally huge story, too, when a business shuts down operations in another, larger city, to move operations to Monroe. That says something about our progress as a community."
Mayo said if voters re-elect him, his administration would continue to work on problems facing the city, such as crime, housing and economic development. He highlighted Monroe's crime rate as one area where some candidates have attacked him.
"Even though we have crime issues, we are still the second-safest metro area in the state of Louisiana," Mayo said.
"I don't want to diminish the crime issues we have, but my opponents are talking about issues we're already addressing as a city," Mayo said.
Mayo highlighted improvements to the city's beautification department, the P-Tech job development program, improvements in transportation and economic development, and the city's expansion of the metro transit system as just a few areas in which the city has made improvements.
"My opponents are attacking me for spending the last six years doing exactly the types of things they are promising voters they'll do if they are elected mayor," Mayo said.
Mayo also pointed out his administration has cut property tax rates.
"My opponents are talking about cutting taxes, but look at the sales tax," Mayo said. "One penny goes for the school system for salaries and curriculum, a penny for roads, a quarter of a cent for the police and fire."
"What do my opponents want to cut out?" Mayo said. "The police and fire raises, roads, or the teacher pay and curriculum development?"
"All of us would love to have lower taxes, but what services do you want to eliminate?" he said.
Mayo also pointed to his success as a team player and proven leader, noting he helped pass the infrastructure improvement tax under his predecessor, Rambin.
"We worked on the infrastructure tax together," Mayo said. "We passed that as a team."
Mayo said that tax has allowed the city to make improvements to its water and sewer systems, improvements made necessary by a consent decree from the federal government.
"We're proud that we had the mechanism to be able to do what the federal government mandates and to protect the well-being of our citizens," Mayo said. "People shouldn't forget that these were things the three previous mayors knew we needed to do but lacked the resources to do."
"Mayor Rambin passed the infrastructure tax and gave us the means to do it," Mayo said. "Now here we are, in my term, implementing the things we've known for 20 years we were going to have to do and my opponents are trying to use that against me."
Mayo is seeking re-election against a slate of candidates that includes Clint Thomas, Ali Moghimi, Tony Little and Jack Buttitta.
The election for Monroe mayor will be in conjunction with a state-wide Democratic presidential primary. Also on that ballot will be the mayoral race in Richwood and elections for four seats on the Monroe City Council.
District 2 Councilman Ben Katz was unopposed for re-election.