Jessica Lotspeich Candidate Bio


 

Q: Why do you want to be Mayor of Abita Springs?

A: As a civic minded resident of Abita, I’ve identified some serious issues that I feel I’m capable of correcting.

 

Q: What three accomplishments in your political, personal, or business career are you most proud of?

A: Political: this is my first attempt at politics, so I’d say I’m pretty proud of myself for putting myself in the ring for this position. Personal: Aside from my children, I’d say one of my proudest moments was bringing the town together to fight the microbrewery that was threatening to take over the space currently occupied by Artigues. I was able to find and argue the reasons why that incoming business was not appropriate for that location in town. Professional: My proudest professional moment was obtaining my real estate license and fulfilling a dream.

 

Q: What is your vision for Abita Springs at the end of your four year term? What will you do to improve and enhance the quality of life for Abita Springs’ residents, businesses, and visitors?

A: My vision for Abita in the future is that of a town where citizens and officials can work together in a peaceful capacity, without fear of retribution when someone questions the decisions of the Mayor, and a place where sincere thought and planning goes into the growth that occurs. During my term I hope to bring more family oriented businesses to our area, so residents don’t always have to leave town when looking for family fun options. I would feel great leaving office knowing that my time counted towards the preservation of Abita ideals while still having laid serious ground work towards the town’s future.

 

Q: List several projects in which you have had significant impact and how you affected the outcome.

A: The biggest town issue I can say I was influential in changing the outcome on was the Artiques/Microbrewery issue. When it was discovered that the microbrewery was looking to take over the Artigues location, leaving Abita without a grocery, I not only sounded the alarm, and got people to attend the meetings on this issue, but I went and met personally with the head of the P&Z to discuss how this ever initially passed by them. I discovered that there was a document from the 70s that laid out the zoning of the Historic district that identified what types of businesses could be allowed, and a microbrewery is not one of them. I took this info to the proper meeting and laid it all out.

Another issue I was heavily involved in was the chlorination of our water supply. It happened suddenly, and with zero warning. It took several months’ worth of meetings, and one very contentious meeting where I begged the Mayor to please admit the truth to us, but they finally printed what really happened on the back of a water bill.

 

Q: Please rank your top three priorities for this new term and outline your plan for implementing these priorities.

A: 1. One of my first acts as Mayor will be to implement a proper economic development committee and work towards developing a TRUE masterplan for the town, for the purpose of attracting a varied number of businesses to support local growth and establish a clear plan for the town’s future economic success, while providing our citizens with local choices for business and pleasure for years to come. I also hope to improve upon current business relationships, where necessary.

2. I plan to comb through the town’s budget looking for ways to cut erroneous spending, with the hope of making our town less dependent on grants for luxuries such as sidewalks. The budget must be balanced for all funds. Total anticipated revenues must equal total estimated expenditures for each fund. New programs are not budgeted or implemented until the full annual cost and the financial impact can be reasonably projected. Typically, new or expanded services are implemented simultaneously with their related off-setting revenue increase or expense reduction. This applies to personnel, equipment and any other peripheral expense associated with the service. All investments should be assessed relative to the following objectives in the stated order: safety, liquidity, and yield.

3. The Town of Abita Springs operates under the Lawrason Act, allowing the mayor to be the ultimate decision maker, controlling the governance and operations. As Mayor, I would like to give more power to the aldermen and the citizens of Abita, to promote good government and a better relationship between the citizens and their elected officials. I plan to start the process allowing our aldermen to have more legislative power, by assigning them “wards”, or districts. This is how other towns of similar size currently under the Lawrason Act already operate, and it sets us up for a much smoother transition to a Home Rule Charter once the twon hits a population of 5,000.

 

Q: What changes to procedures or new ordinances/laws will you propose and/or implement?

A: I tend to dislike the implementation of ordinances for issues/topics that can and should otherwise be handled differently. So any new ordinances will be subject to whatever is brought up in the future. As far as current procedures that I’d like to see changed, I strongly feel that the Planning and Zoning approval process should be a little more detailed, and people seeking initial approval for big ticket items or construction should be made to present their plan to the committee, to be taken under advisement and open for public feedback for one month, or until the next P&Z meeting takes place, where they would receive a P&Z response.

I’d also like to look into the different committees and see what % of each committee is comprised of individuals actually reside in the town limits. I know that the people on the committees currently offer valuable insight and help to the town, but I also feel that decisions being made that affect the residents of the town should be made by people that are affected by the decisions as well.

 

Q: Please rank your top three priorities for the next four years and outline your plan for implementing them. Indicate how your priorities will grow our community while also preserving our roots.

A: This is a duplicate question.

 

Q: What changes, if any, do you support regarding new rules, procedures, or ordinances and why?

A: No opinion right now.

 

Q: Other than raising property millage rates, what plans, if any, do you have to increase town revenues in ways that are consistent with economic growth and a healthy, prosperous, livable, and safe community?

A: Our town needs sales tax dollars, plain and simple. We shan’t rely on 15 or so mills per household to sustain our growth. It would be wise for the town to look into the property on the outskirts heading down 59, 36 and 59 north, to annex in the commercial properties so we can benefit and have some control of from the growth that is coming.  Another way to bring some increased income it to restructure the current farmers market situation, so that the town receives the vendor fees, and to promote our town hall building and gazebo at the park, which are both available for rent.

 

Q: What changes, if any, will you recommend to the Aldermen that may reduce expenses while maintaining or enhancing the quality of life in Abita Springs?

A: I propose doing away with Mayor’s court and rerouting all traffic violations to the main courthouse in Covington. By raising traffic violation fines, we can offset the cost of having the parish handle collections, while saving employee overtime, Magistrate fees and attorney fees required at Mayors court. The Town should also do away with the answering service that directs callers during business hours. That costs the town THOUSANDS per year, when there are more than enough full time employees capable of answering the phones.

 

Q: Do you have any recommendations for changes/modifications to current zoning and planning laws and decisions that will ensure that as the town grows our cultural and historical significance will not be compromised?

A: See reply to above question.

 

Q: What are your thoughts and plans in the development of a Master Plan?

A: I feel it will take significant thought and planning, with particular attention to the growth on the outskirts being annexed in. I plan to appoint a committee of residents from throughout the town, to gather input and to seek guidance from. There should be a series of town hall meetings to discuss, as well as a system implement for those who are unable to attend the meetings, so they may submit their input. This is a very serious undertaking and should take serious thought and action.

 

Q: What environmental issues do you consider important to Abita Springs?

A: We need to fix our water. Bottom line. If I am unable to get our previous agreement with the state back on track, we need to correct the current means of adding chloride to the town’s water. What is taking place currently is unacceptable.

 

Q: What else would you like to share with voters to help them make their decision?

A: I am, and will always be, devoted to helping others and speaking up for those who haven’t found their own voice yet. I feel that as a citizen, and not a career politician, I have firsthand knowledge of the issues within town that seem to be most important to the population as a whole. I believe that as a woman and a mother, I can bring a sense of passion and compassion to this office, to evoke a positive change throughout our community. My aim is to meet the simple, but crucial demand of our citizens—a Government that puts the needs of its own people first and operates more effectively, efficiently, and securely. I hope to bring to Abita “good government”, which to me means a government that listens to the people that elected them into office; one that not only listens, but encourages participation and improves communication and collaboration between the Town Government and Abita Springs citizens.

 

Q: What is your position regarding the proposal for hydraulic fracturing in St. Tammany Parish?  What actions have you taken?

A: My position is that fracking doesn’t belong anywhere in our parish (or state, even).  When it was proposed a few year ago, I was a VERY vocal opponent, speaking out against it at meetings, signing petitions, speaking with other residents who had NO IDEA what was being proposed.