Parish President Tommy Martinez in the Spotlight
How did you become interested in your chosen career?
Bascially I was drafted. I had a business in St. Amant and there was an open spot for a police juror in 1990. A group of people that I knew suggested that I run for it. After a while it sounded like something that I might want to do. I’m still interested in it and I’m still enjoying it. Charles Parent was the police juror who decided not to run. I ran against three people and I won in the first primary. I took office in 1991. For two years a group of people pushed for a home rule charter and I agreed with them, thinking it was the best move for Ascension Parish. At the point it became more of a modern parish rather than having a police jury system. You have a council form of government with checks and balances. People asked me to run for parish president and I won in the second primary. Also, I’ve been involved with the public for most of my life. I’ve worked in stores so my entire life was dealing with the public.
What do you enjoy most about your job and what do you enjoy least?
Most is meeting with people and helping people and doing things that hopefully enhance the quality of life in Ascension Parish. I enjoy going to schools and talking to school children. Plus, I enjoy coming to work every day. Least is being away from my family and the long hours that I have to put it and be away from them. The time away from family and also the pace of government are the two things I like the least in the job.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
I wake at 6:30 a.m. and I’m here for 7:30 a.m. most days. I start meetings as soon as I get here. I meet with constituents, I meet with staff, I meet with consultants, so a typical day starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends around 8:30 at night. Most weeks, we have night meetings three out of five nights a week. Parish government touches just about everything in this parish including the jail, parks, drainage, roads, the health units, the mental health unit, the courthouses, etc. We’re involved with every issue.
Is there a specific achievement during your term in office that you are most proud of?
One of the achievements that I’ve been most proud of was during my first time in office as parish president. During that time, we began taking the parish out of the dust and overlaying and laying asphalt over 600 roads in Ascension Parish . One of the main things I love the most is building roads and moving traffic.
Any advice for someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?
You have to be very energetic, first of all. Then you have to know a little bit about everything. Maybe not be an expert but you have to have experience in government because if not, it can become a big bear that will grab a hold of you. There are a lot of things that you are responsible for. So my advice would be for someone to get experience in a government setting or operation before trying to run for this office. Also, make sure that your family supports your decision to run because you will spend many hours involved with running the intricacies of parish government, and that will take away from your time with them. And no matter what, however you can do it, always try to make time for your family because they are your solid foundation.