As a candidate for the Louisiana House of Representatives, I am focused on those issues that directly affect the residents of District 98. Like you, countless issues of national importance keep me awake at night. I am, however, careful not to mislead anyone about my reach as a state representative. Certain issues, such as immigration, fall squarely within Congress’ power to regulate. In other policy areas, the state shares responsibility with the federal government (wages, healthcare, firearms, coastal restoration, taxes, etc.). Last, as with the Mayor’s Fair Share initiative, there are local issues such as infrastructure needs that require the city and state to work in partnership.
Many of my campaign priorities are aspirational in nature, but others are more immediate and require a sense of urgency. These include flood mitigation, coastal erosion/land loss, and Sewerage and Water Board infrastructure investment. The serious challenges we face are exacerbated by a growing threat – climate change. There’s a reason most Louisiana voters (71%), who were recently polled say they believe in climate change. While it’s human nature to question things our senses cannot see, taste, or feel, extreme weather patterns with high-intensity rainfall in short bursts and warmer than usual temperatures are becoming commonplace.
We have moved into a new phase where the physical evidence of climate change is mounting. It’s no longer merely a concern for future generations; rather, it’s unfolding right before our eyes. New Orleans and its surrounding area will grow increasingly vulnerable as sea levels rise faster than expected and erosion wipes out protective barrier islands and marshlands. An additional concern was identified by the U.S. Army Corps Engineers a few months ago when it projected the $14 billion network of levees, floodwalls, pump stations and gated structures constructed after Hurricane Katrina will no longer provide the required risk reduction as early as 2023. Of primary concern is the loss of levee height, due to subsidence and the compaction of soft soils. The City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana are now doing battle on two fronts as we attempt to restore coastal areas, as well as increasing our city’s resiliency through major investment in drainage and pumping infrastructure. We must simultaneously incorporate more innovative flood control measures, such as green space and stormwater management into our city’s landscape. It will be a long and costly fight.
The Mayor’s Fair Share legislation will fund critical maintenance and investment in infrastructure. To upgrade and replace our aging systems will cost several billions of dollars in investment over the next 10 to 20 years. The Fair Share Agreement provided the Sewerage and Water Board with approximately $46 million in one-time money and more than $20 million in a year in recurring. New Orleans will continue to need legislators who will appropriate recurring revenue to these projects while keeping the state’s budget on proper footing to allow for local matching dollars (for federally financed projects). At the same time, we need to consider how we can lower our carbon footprint. The Legislature must explore additional incentives geared towards encouraging energy efficiency and the development of green industry. If properly supported, our small business community will be positioned to lead the way in this technology.
The enormity of these challenges and the level of funding needed will require a bipartisan, unified front of local, state and Congressional leaders, who are committed to protecting our coastline and, ultimately, our way of life. As a problem solver, I will work with our other elected officials (many of whom I already know) to strongly advocate for additional state and federal funding, as well as any available grants. Throughout this campaign, I have formed a diverse, bipartisan coalition of support and you can expect the same from me in Baton Rouge. I am committed to being a part of the solution and will do everything in my power to build a safe and vibrant future for New Orleans.