January 9, 2012
It’s really good to see everybody out here. I know we have some students who I have actually visited at Emily C. Watkins, and we are just pleased that they are getting to witness such a memorable occasion. And I am so proud to be here today standing with these newly elected council members as your representatives of St. John the Baptist Parish.
It’s very difficult to wipe the smile off of my face, and you should be happy as well.
Again, please let’s congratulate all of them.
To our Clergy, those in here with us and those who served mass earlier, our newly elected council members, Judges, and all of the other elected officials in attendance, family, friends and of course fellow citizens of St. John the Baptist Parish – Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be with us here today – this is truly the inauguration of the governing authority of this great Parish, and we are glad you are here to celebrate with us.
I want to extend a special recognition to my husband Hernendez, my daughter Courtney, and my son Casey who have suffered through three campaigns in five years and keeping in mind there were run-offs so it multiplied to six – that was a difficult task, something I could not have done without their assistance, their support, and obviously them taking care of home as I was not there a lot.
My family has attended events they didn’t even know took place, they’ve walked on streets canvassing neighbors and neighborhood doors that they didn’t know existed along with many of you in the audience today, many of my friends, and family. Again, without you I would not be here standing before you.
I’d also like to thank my staff who helped us while we are were very busy doing the campaigning but also maintaining services to you the residents of St. John Parish. There are no breaks, there are no times to pause, everything must continue despite all of our efforts. And I’d like to thank all of them who are here. They were offered the opportunity to come and I see many out here. We could not do what we do without all of you and I want to say thank you.
I’m a little saddened today that the rest of my immediate family couldn’t be here but we’ve experienced a death in our family, and I know that I am in their hearts and in their spirit. And I ask that you pray for our family as we go through this. Fortunately the funeral that was scheduled for today has been postponed and I will be able to attend with the rest of my family.
I am also saddened by the fact that one of if not more of our dear friends who were with us in 2010 are not here today, one of those, Michael Carter, a long time politician or someone involved in Government. Mr. Lloyd Gibson who worked with us and I am sure there are countless others, but I know those individuals were here during our swearing-in ceremony in May of 2010.
Twenty months ago, I took office, I took my first oath of office and promised then to restore your faith and trust in Parish government – to serve the community with honesty and integrity. And for the past 20 months I have stayed true to that promise. Today I can say with great confidence – we are well on our way to restoring that faith and trust.
Despite difficult circumstances, we’ve accomplished a great deal and it took a lot of effort and a lot of people and I look forward to the next 4 years. We created transparency, we improved our communication efforts, we encouraged competitive pricing and established policies and procedures to improve the resident’s ability to access public services.
I want to thank the outgoing council for their service to our community and for working with me and my staff to make meaningful changes to parish policies and procedures. I would also like to thank the outgoing elected officials and my staff some of whom retired, for their service and efforts in spite of going through three Presidents in four years. That was not an easy task.
But of course, I welcome our new council members and returning members and I embrace this opportunity to serve the people of this great parish – to change the culture of mediocrity and raise the bar and set a new level of expectation. There is excitement about the changes and opportunities ahead of us. And I hear it everywhere I go, and we will not let you down.
Together we will lead St. John Parish to a new level of service and economic growth.
Together, we will work to attract new businesses and good-paying jobs for our community.
Together, we will partner with educational and training programs to improve opportunities for our residents.
And together we will work to reduce crime and improve opportunities for our youth.
I ask for your continued support and your prayers as we embark upon new opportunities and challenges as public servants. That’s correct - Public Servants. We are leaders, but we are servants and we need prayer to stay on that path and we need it every day. I know I have people praying for me every day because I can feel the shield around me. We need it, don’t ever let up. It’s not our path, its God’s path. We are chosen to help get everyone there. I frequently hear at services, “to whom much is given, much is required.” I can say that I am blessed, my family is blessed and many of us up here are blessed. And it is our job to give back, and we will.
I look forward with great anticipation to working with the new council in moving St. John the Baptist Parish forward and I invite all of you to join us.
It wasn’t just a 20 month stint; our efforts to get out into the Parish were sincere. We are going to continue those efforts. We work for you; we want you to work with us. We have to decide what we want St. John the Baptist Parish to look like and be like and then set a path to get there. I know my expectations are high and when I am on the campaign trail I hear high expectations from our residents and we are going to reach those expectations and actually supersede them.
So again join us, not just today, every day, in prayer and support. When we call on you, please come out. This is our parish. This is not mine, it’s not just ours. It’s all of our parish. And our goal is to make it the best place to live and work.
Let’s make St. John Parish the best that it can be - a place to be proud of. A place to be proud to call home – There is nothing we can’t do together.
Now, no more talking - Let’s just do it!
Thank you for your time.
I couldn’t end without saying, Go Tigers!