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New parish council begins work

The five new members of the Washington Parish Council expressed a collective desire of moving the parish forward in their new roles.

Perry Talley represents District 1, while Chris Workman is the new District 3 representative. Levi Lewis Sr. is the new District 4 Councilman. Reginald McMasters represents District 6 and David Anthony won the District 7 seat.

The lone holdovers from the previous parish council are District 2 Councilman Michael Fussell and Pete Thomas, District 5 Councilman.

On Monday, Thomas was elected council chairman and McMasters was named vice chairman.

The new council members attended an ethics training seminar on Wednesday.

Talley owns Rio Company Unlimited, a wholesale nursery company, and is also a watermelon farmer. He said there is a short list of priorities he would like to see.

“My primary focus is to do what is right for our area to get some economic growth,” Talley said. “Also, my No. 2 priority is I would like to rebuild the public’s confidence in their local government. I feel the public’s confidence has slipped in government in general over the last several years.”

Talley defeated Melvin Keith in the election for the seat previously held by Ken Wheat, who decided not to run. Talley said trust in government is imperative.

“I believe we should be as open as absolutely possible and try and hold the public meetings at a time more convenient for the public to attend,” Talley said.

Workman defeated Merlin Duke in the election. He said the new council can’t solve problems facing the parish instantly.

“It’s an honor to serve the people of District 3 and help the parish move forward, and that’s what it’s all about,” Workman said. “We’re not going to be able to solve the world’s problems in one meeting as a council. We can’t change the world, but we can do some things, like work with other agencies to help the parish move forward. The parish is in pretty good shape financially. We hope to build on that.”

Lewis unseated incumbent Andre Johnson to win the District 4 seat. Lewis said he wanted to contribute as much as possible.

“I’m excited about being sworn in. There are some opportunities I might be able to make contributions with,” Lewis said. “I like the idea to attempt to grow some of our agricultural industries within our community and utilizing our land to the max. Maybe parish government could provide incentives for land owners to grow crops for commercial purposes.”

Lewis also said he would like to find a way to acquire a food processing plant to come into the parish. He also stressed enhanced fines and penalties for those who trash the parish. He also said drainage needs to be addressed.

Lewis said residents can contact him at 504-453-7914.

McMasters is Franklinton Public Works Director and defeated incumbent Greg Route. He said the council must learn the ropes quickly.

“Like the night I got sworn in, I told my supporters that I appreciated their vote and may I go in and do the right thing to help Washington Parish move forward,” McMasters said. “There were a lot of issues left on the table and we as a Council need to make good decisions.”

One key issue that was tabled from the previous council was an occupational license ordinance. That will be up to the current council to consider.

Anthony defeated incumbent Aubrey Posey in the runoff.

I’m excited to be able to serve and try and bring in some jobs and work with some of the other councilmen,” Anthony said. “I’m excited to be able to work with Parish President Richard Thomas and help move the parish forward.”