LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As the Lake Charles area continues to grow, surrounding communities like Iowa are feeling the growing pains. All five candidates running in the race for Iowa mayor, discussed this, along with other key issues ahead of the election next week.
Paul Hesse, a cost accountant for Sasol, believes expanding the town will be beneficial for those who live there.
“We need to expand the town, be able to incorporate these new subdivisions, but that means we need to make a capital investment in the sewer and the water to get them out there,"Hesse said. "Yeah, initially, it’s a cost, but once everything’s in place, it becomes an investment.”
Terry Mann, a 32-year Iowa resident, agreed the town is growing, but would like to see it grow in more ways than one.
“Iowa is a growing city and has been growing for years. But it’s growing residential, it’s not growing commercial, which we really need to address," Mann said. "As far as inside the city limits, we’re running out of room commercial. We need to really see about annexing property.”
Errol Marshall sat on the town council for eight years, and hopes he can help bring the economic boom to Iowa.
“I’ve made a lot of contacts in the business community and so I’m using some of that knowledge I’ve gained, as well as some of the contacts that I have," Marshall said. "I plan on being a champion for the town, being a cheerleader for the town, to let them know that we’re open for business, find out some of the reasons why businesses aren’t coming here and do what we can to change their mind.”
For incumbent Mayor Carol Ponthieux, the rising population is something to be excited about.
“It’s going to be wonderful for the businesses in Iowa, it’s gonna help them develop and grow very good customers. It’s good for our churches it’s good for our schools,” Ponthieux said.
Claire Scalisi, who has live in the Iowa area for over 40 years and worked at city hall for five, said if elected she will prioritize those long-time Iowa residents as more and more people come to the area.
“The sewer, that’s probably going to be a big issue. When you have to furnish the sewer and the water you know, we have to make sure it accommodates all of these people," Scalisi said. "We want everyone to be happy.”
Drainage is another big issue in Iowa, all candidates agreeing it needs to be addressed.
For Ponthieux, being reelected would give her time to work on some bucket list items she said could be done in another term. Some of those being drainage and sewer projects.
“The sewer issue in the eight years that I’ve been mayor, we had issues where people couldn’t flush their toilets if it rained more than an inch. Water infiltration that would seep into the ground would get into the broken sewer lines and it would back up into peoples homes. That’s not acceptable. It’s unsanitary and it’s just not right,” Ponthieux said.
If reelected, Ponthieux said she would be able to see a a fourth sewer repair project to it’s completion.
Hesse is confident that his fellow candidates have the same ideas about drainage as he does. “Just like everybody else, drainage is high on the priority of what we need to do. I think all the candidates are in agreement."
Mann said “Drainage is the number one, naturally, the first priority.”
Marshall agrees, and said he knows solving drainage issues is important to Iowa residents.
“Obviously, everybody has issues with drainage and flooding, and those are some of the things I want to get taken care of,” Marshall said.
Scalisi’s main concern is providing sewer services to all of the new homes that are being built in the area.
“When you have that many, you definitely need better sewage and something that’s going to accommodate all of these people and not have problems at all.”
All five candidates will spreak at a public forum Wednesday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 6:30 p.m.