M.J. "Mert" Smiley runs unopposed as Ascension Parish Assessor

Logan Ridenour
Assessor M.J. "Mert" Smiley greets someone during a September 11 memorial in Gonzales, Louisiana.

M.J. "Mert" Smiley is running unopposed as the Ascension Parish Assessor. He was first elected as assessor in 2011.

After he took office in January 2013, he began modernizing what he describes as the primarily role of the office. "The main duty of our office is to discover, list, and value all the properties in the parish," Smiley said.

He began implementing the "latest technology" to carry out this mission. For example, upon taking over the role as assessor he discovered 3,400 property owners that were claiming more than one homestead exemption. The maximum allowed in Louisiana is one.

This discovery led to an increase in funds being distributed to varying governmental entities. An example of this is the increase of $11 million dollars being allotted to Ascension Parish Public Schools for the benefit of students.

Smiley says he is proud of his work and the efforts of his team. "By assessing everyone fairly we're ensuring no one is paying more than they should be," he said.

He says this is possible because of those he works alongside. "They're all family. We all work together real closely." He is currently working to get everyone on his 24-man team certified as a Louisiana assessor.

Smiley has been married to his wife Ina Smiley for 46 years. They are both active with charities throughout the Parish, such as the heart association and the cancer association. He believes it's important to be involved in the community and charity.

He says every morning he prays to the Lord to give him the strength and wisdom to carry out his job properly and ethically. "I try to make sure everybody is treated fairly and equally," he said.