This campaign is all about the issues. How can we make Slidell a stronger, healthier, more beautiful community? Sean has some ideas. Please come back often, as he will be posting more about what we can do to put Slidell back to work for you.
Why are you running for Slidell City Council?
I’m running because Slidell is a great place to live and work. It’s a great place to raise a family, which is what I’m doing with my two young children. It’s a great place, because it still feels like a community. But that is getting harder as the city struggles to react to uncontrolled growth. If we want to keep Slidell feeling like a community, so my kids can grow up and stay here, we need to start thinking BIG about some of the issues.
What does that mean? It means we need to think about the economy beyond just retail, and explore logistics and manufacturing and tech. We need to look to small business, not just large companies. It means thinking about traffic beyond just cars, and include bike lanes and more sidewalks. And it means thinking about flooding beyond just drainage pumps, and even city limits. We need to be building large projects, like levees and marsh restorations, and fighting to get federal dollars to protect the entire city.
I worked nearly a decade as a government attorney doing coastal management. I know how to get things done, and I know how to get everyone to the table. I have worked with cities and states and federal agencies to do large projects that helped lots of people. And I offer nearly a decade as a small business attorney, helping companies get started, hire their first employees, and move from a state to national spotlight. I know how to bring together the public and private sectors.
Because Slidell can’t do this on our own. We need to bring folks together to work on big projects, and not be scared to think beyond our city limits. We need to think big if we want to keep Slidell feeling like a small community.
What do we do about the water in the streets?
We live in a coastal community, and that means we deal with water. But if we want to tackle our largest flooding and drainage problems, we need to start thinking big. Drainage and pump stations aren’t enough. We need to tackle the entire floodplain, and for that, we can’t do it alone. It’s time to collaborate with the Parish and the State on large projects that can help keep us all high and dry.
Here’s what we can do now. Actively promote and fight for the West Slidell Levee. This is an approved project by the US Army Corps of Engineers that would protect West Slidell all the way to Lacombe from major storm flooding. It would extend from just south of Palm Lake out west towards Fontainebleau Park. This would have a huge impact on property values, lower flood rates, and better quality of living.
But no government project is a done deal, until it is done. This project is in competition with another levee proposal that does nothing for West Slidell. We can’t be scared to think big, work with the Parish, State, and Federal Government on making sure this happens.
Sean has worked in coastal management for nearly a decade. He’s not afraid to go after big money for big projects and get them done. He knows the people to talk to, and he knows how to bring federal dollars to Slidell.
How do we improve Slidell’s economy?
We need to have a tough talk about Slidell’s budget. Slidell’s budget is nearly double that of 2019. The surplus is now. We need to invest in projects that prevent flooding and improve traffic. And we need to save for future maintenance of our infrastructure and bolster our rainy day fund. Good times don’t last forever.
To have sound fiscal responsibility, you need to understand the budget, which is a large thing. Compare a homeowner’s association budget of around $600 to Slidell’s budget is around $40,000,000. That’s a big difference. You need someone with a keen eye for numbers, and with experience working at agencies with large budgets. I can offer nearly a decade of experience representing state-level government agencies manage large, 8-figure budgets. Can any other candidate say that?
What is Good Government?
Ever since I was endorsed by the Alliance for Good Government, people ask what that means. I believe that it means proving effective service to the public, while maintaining the public trust. But what does that look like?
Let me give you an example of good government in action. In 2013, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) was in trouble. It’s Executive Director of 11 years and some of his close staff were going to jail for embezzlement, fraud, and other crimes. The Department was a pariah and the face of corruption in Mississippi.
I was hired in 2014 as part of a new team tasked with cleaning up the Department and getting it back going in the right direction. It wasn’t easy. We had to change not just the procedures, but the culture of the organization. We implemented new professional standards, created new policies to ensure sound fiscal management, and instituted an audit by which we made all major decisions.
It wasn’t easy, but by the time I left in 2018 the Department of Marine Resources was the gold standard in Mississippi government. It went from the face of corruption, to the agency trusted with managing hundreds of millions of dollars in BP settlement money, in just a few years.
Trust in our public agencies. That is good government.
The Trains are Too Damn Loud
Living in Palm Lake or Dellwood, we know whenever the train comes around. The trains built Slidell, and we are grateful. But maybe we don’t need to be reminded 10 times a day. One pet project will be to quiet the train horns. By investing in railroad crossing safety equipment, we can work with the U.S. Department of Transportation to create Quiet Zone ordinances that stop the trains from blowing horns through neighborhoods. That improves the property values and quality of life along the tracks. Just another example of thinking BIG to protect our community.