The final thought


In one last hope. In one last open forum. Derrick Coco, Willie Robinson and Harold Stewart plead their hearts on why each of them, respectively, should be voted in as Gonzales City Councilman for Division C seat. On March 16, the Ascension Parish Voter’s League (APVL) gave the three candidates their last panel before the March 28 election date. Those who attended seemed to be in one accord when several questions from the public resembled each other: “would you vote to ride along with the council, or vote to speak for the people?”

First to speak on a hypothetical situation and question was Coco.

“If 51 percent of the people disagree then we’re going to have to rethink the situation and go with the people,” Coco said. “You have to weigh your options out and do what’s best for the community.”

Coco said you’re going to lose some friends along the way because it’s hard to please everybody all the time.

“But at the end of the day you have to do what’s right. Regardless of what the decision is it has to be the right decision to where it sits well with me,” Coco said.

Robinson said he would need to know more information on what the project is and what the vote is, not just for him but to also share with the council and community.

“Fifty-one percent is just one percent more than the majority,” Robinson said. “One percent more means there are a lot of people involved, so you can’t address the issue because it’s a tough question for anybody with 49 percent of the people for it. You have to dig deeper.”

Stewart, in short form, said he always votes for the people period.

“I would vote for the people, for the 51 percent,” Stewart said. “I’m here for the people and they come first. My first platform on my ballot is communication and I’m number one to answer to the people of this city.”

A representative from the community stood and said, “the cotton-picking time is always right to do what is right.”

“The majority is not always right,” the community person said. “We don’t want the same old soup, just reheated.”

Alsie Dunbar, a community representative in attendance, asked about the 400-acre project that is the M.P. Evans property along Highway 44 and Highway 941. She said there is a lot of traffic along that road and it’s only two lanes. She asked the candidates, “What will you bring to the table with that to relieve problems we have?”

Stewart said he has already talked to the city’s engineer and she’s working with the state and they’re looking at the turn lanes and making things better for that project.

“There are a lot of things going on right now that’s dealing with the project and your answers,” Stewart said. “It’s something I can’t answer right now, but when I am the next man to serve for the council to work with them to answer your questions.”

Robinson said the city is behind when it comes to roads and traffic work, and they are going to have to work together collectively to get things moving.

“We’re going to have to go to our State Senator, that’s Troy Brown’s district, your parish council that’s Travis Turner’s district, and go above and beyond to address these issues,” Robinson said. “These issues aren’t going to be addressed in a short period of time. We have to have somebody on the council that’s willing to go above and beyond and speak to who needs to be spoken to, and that’s me. I’m willing to be that voice for you.”

Coco said the city has to adopt quality standards to assure quality developments to give clear directions on land use.

“We have to improve the target traffic areas. We have to come together and prepare ourselves for the property development,” Coco said.

After the forum, the APVL voted to endorse Harold Stewart as its candidate to move forward and support.