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Bloxham, Little on ballot for city mayor

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Bloxham, Little on ballot for city mayor

Both have extensive knowledge of city government

By DEANNE WINTERTON

News Editor

Ballots should be arriving this week in Morgan County mailboxes, and city residents have the opportunity to pick a mayor that will serve for the next four years.  Incumbent Mayor Ray W. Little has an unlikely foe on the November ballot to retain his seat: former long-time City Recorder Julie Lee Bloxham.

Both candidates agree that infrastructure should be the city’s highest priority and that a hotel would benefit the city financially.

Bloxham worked for the city for 34 years, retiring earlier this year.  She worked for the cemeteries and was later sworn in as city recorder in 1987.  She also has experience as a Morgan ambulance EMT.  A life-long Morgan City resident, she has experienced many things over the years including construction of a new city office building and flooding in the 1980s.  She has sat through several thousand hours of Morgan City Council meetings while serving with 33 council members and 10 mayors over the years.

Morgan City Mayor Ray W. Little was originally appointed in April of 2014, when Mayor Jim Egbert resigned.  Little won re-election in 2015.  A life-long city resident, Little has served on the city council since 1994. Little is a retired Morgan educator, advising Morgan High School’s award-winning FFA chapter for decades.  He also taught vocational agriculture, science, math and personal finance.  Other political experience includes serving as a member of the Morgan City Board of Adjustments, Delta City Planning Commission, and MEA Credit Union board of directors.

  1. Name: Julie Lee Bloxham

 

  1. Age: 60

 

  1. Previous political experience:

I have not previously held any political office.

 

  1. Any other previous experience you believe qualifies you for the job:

I was employed by Morgan City for 34 years, recently retiring in April.  My position as city recorder required me to attend City Council and RDA meetings. I was responsible for financial records.  I did the monthly reconciliation of all accounts and would prepare the financial statements for the mayor and city council.  I was the ex-officio auditor and assisted in the yearly audits.  I wrote numerous grants for projects throughout the City.

As a result of attending meetings, I am aware of what has occurred on many projects and other items within the City.

 

  1. What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing Morgan City right now?

Economic development is always in the forefront of issues the city faces. However, if I have to pick one item it would be infrastructure. We need to ensure our water, sewer, electric, streets, parks and other infrastructure systems are in good condition and meet the needs of our citizens.

 

  1. How would you handle this issue if elected?

Due to recent issues with the sewer and electrical systems, some steps have been taken to upgrade.  I would work with council members and employees to continue working toward the repair and/or replacement of infrastructure as needed.  There needs to be capital investment plans in place for maintenance and future upgrades, and budgets should have money assigned to cover costs.  It is essential to our quality of life and to be able to attract businesses to have infrastructure that is maintained.

 

  1. What is your opinion of bringing a hotel to Morgan City?  Do you think it is worth continuing to pursue this project in the future?

A hotel would be very beneficial to the city.  However, I have seen several studies that have concluded it is not feasible at this time.  The nightly occupancy rate has to be over 60 percent for the development to survive.  I am not in favor of the City using taxpayer funds as an incentive to the developer.  There are certain incentives directly related to the hotel such as transient room tax, sales and property taxes that could be given.  I feel that when a hotel is feasible, a developer will approach the city and will not be requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars to locate here.

 

  1. What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Mayor Ray Little is a good person and has been a friend for a lot of years. I do not like to consider myself “better” than him.  If I am elected, I will bring a different perspective to the position and would focus on different priorities than are currently being looked at.

 

  1. Anything you want to add:

It would be an honor to serve the citizens and if elected, I would ask anyone who has questions, concerns or just wants to give input to please contact me.  I will always be willing to listen.

  1. Name: Ray W. Little

 

  1. Age: 65

 

  1. Previous political experience:

I was elected to the Morgan City Council in November of 1993, where I served until May of 2014. I have been serving as the Morgan City Mayor since May of 2014.

 

  1. Any other previous experience you believe qualifies you for the job:

During my 31-year career as a high school vocational agriculture teacher, I held numerous local and state leadership positions.  Working with several diverse groups of people of multiple ages and backgrounds gives me a strong foundation to provide leadership to the community that raised me and my children.  I believe the various experiences and skills I have acquired through local and state leadership positions has given me unique perspectives and helped qualify me for Morgan City Mayor.

 

  1. What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing Morgan City right now?

The most pressing issues facing Morgan City right now are obtaining more sewer capacity and building a stable city-owned electrical system for our citizens.  Our community continues to grow and we must update and expand the capacity of our city infrastructure.

 

  1. How would you handle this issue if elected?

To handle these pressing issues, I will continue to enhance the processes the current city staff and council are using.  To get us more sewer capacity and continue to meet the state and federal guidelines for sewer outflow, we are working with an engineering firm on a phase 1 project with two parts. One part is the design of a facility referred to as head works that will separate garbage materials that are put into the sewer system. The other part is an upgrade to the tail end of our sewer lagoon process that will disinfect the waste water.

These new facilities will be constructed with future growth in mind. They will be designed to interface with a more complex treatment system that will need to be put into place in the future.

Jamie Grandpre, our city water and waste water superintendent, and Ty Bailey, our city manager, are meeting with the State Department of Water Quality to obtain low-cost funding for these phase 1 projects. We have looked at several funding options to get the lowest cost option possible. Jamie and Ty will continue to meet with the State Department of Water Quality to build relationships for assistance with further analysis, planning, design, and funding of the next phase.

To establish a stable electrical system, we have converted all city electrical poles and lines to a 7200-volt system. Previously, Morgan City had a mix of 2400-volt and 7200-volt systems that were not compatible.

We are in discussion with Pacific Corp to obtain land by their Island Road substation for a new Morgan City substation. With the completion of a new substation, we will have three electrical substations. Next, we will work toward having the ability to shift power from one substation to another to balance demand when there is a need.

Many years ago, some of the main lines in some subdivisions were directly buried in back yards without being put in conduit. Over the past several years, we have been changing those installations by putting the lines in conduit in front yards.  This move from directly buried back yard lines to conduit-encased lines in front yards improves the stability and maintainability of the Morgan City electrical system.

When there is a power problem, we determine the cause and act to minimize the same problem from happening again.  We have taken several steps toward building a safe, dependable electrical system for Morgan City residents.  I would like to continue this program of building for our future by making insightful decisions today.

 

  1. What is your opinion of bringing a hotel to Morgan City?  Do you think it is worth continuing to pursue this project in the future?

My opinion about bringing a hotel to Morgan City is that it would financially benefit Morgan City, County, and School District. I believe that when a hotel is built in Morgan, it will generate additional commercial growth. People with commercial interests are continually looking at Morgan with the possibility of building here. I personally believe it is just a matter of time until someone decides that the time is right to invest in Morgan and build a hotel here. Morgan City needs to have procedures in place that enable an entity to invest here. We will continue to have our door open and be inviting with the focus of preparing for our future today.

 

  1. What makes you the best candidate for this position?

I am very frugal and careful with how your city money is spent. I take the time to study and analyze situations that arise to come to a reasonable legal solution.  I am in the middle of promoting cost-efficient solutions for our current sewer and electrical issues.  My knowledge of those issues and our proposed solutions is key to their success.  I have a deep love for this community, its heritage, and future.  I am open to hearing from community members regarding your concerns and visions for the future of our community.

 

  1. Anything you want to add.

We have hired a city manager to manage the various activities of our city. He is working to implement cost efficient policies and practices in our city that are legal and ethical.  By adding a city manager to our team at Morgan City, we are more equipped than ever to make the best decisions for our community. Please take the time to vote.

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