“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” –Abraham Lincoln

This election is about choosing our next CEO. Qualifications, experience and a game plan matter. Let’s create Covington’s future together.

The Vision

Picture Covington with free-flowing traffic where short distances are still short trips, where you can enjoy the rainfall without fear of rising water, where all the buildings in downtown are full of shops and businesses, where pride of ownership is obvious in the way people maintain their properties, and everyone is actively involved in some aspect of community life. That’s the Covington Candace imagines and believes is achievable.

The job

A mayor is more than a city’s top ambassador. A mayor is a thought leader who solves complex problems. A mayor is a municipal CEO who directs the operation of a city - a specialized body of work. A mayor secures resources to provide services and infrastructure and identifies opportunities to leverage assets to enhance a city’s fiscal position. A mayor is responsible for training, guiding and motivating a city’s workforce. A mayor is a visionary, a steward, a custodian, an urban planner and designer, an organizer, a diplomat, a facilities manager, and a fellow citizen. A mayor is responsible for directing all the moving parts of the environment in which the community thrives.

As Covington’s CEO the Mayor directs and sets policy for the management and maintenance of our sewer and water utilities and road, bridge and drainage systems; fire and police protection; planning and zoning; building permits and safety; finance and budgeting; economic development; and recreation. No CEO steps directly into the job without the specialized knowledge and experience to do the job. Candace is the only candidate who knows firsthand what it takes to do the job because she’s the only candidate who has already done the job. Governing a city is part art, part science, and part instinct. She’s proven that she knows and understands the science, she’s practiced the art, and she has sharpened her instincts.

The Candidate - Passion and Know-how

Candace is a proven servant leader. Her 12 years of service to the city as Mayor (2003 – 2011) and Downtown Development Director (1997 – 2001) produced   Covington’s landmark Trailhead and Recreation Complex, and events including the Final Friday Block Parties and Rockin’ the Rails concert series. She led the city through the response efforts to hurricane Katrina and expedited recovery, removing over 500,000 cubic yards of debris from the city at minimal expense to property owners. Her administration expanded the sewer treatment plant to bring the city into environmental compliance and accommodate growth, modernized the city’s zoning ordinance, updated the city’s Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan, replaced over 4,000 water meters bringing the water delivery system and utility fund into the 21st century, renovated the pool at Peter Atkins Park, moved City Hall to the Greater Covington Center, renovated the Fuhrmann Auditorium…and the list goes on. Her record of success was achieved in the wake of hurricane Katrina and duration of the Great Recession showing her grace under pressure and commitment to thoughtful cautious management principles, while constantly looking ahead to anticipate needs and opportunities. Candace can execute and deliver.

 After leaving city government she went on to lead the Department of Community Development in St. Bernard Parish, and most recently was a member of the National Disaster Resilience team with the State of Louisiana Office of Community Development. She is married to Trevor Watkins, Principal of St. Paul’s School. They have three sons, a daughter, and two granddaughters. She is a member of St. Peter Parish where she participates in the music ministry as a cantor. See Candace’s full resume.

her Platform Principles

Community is the reason government exists – to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. By choosing to live in Covington we have all made the conscious decision to be part of a community – a group of people who share a colorful history, a diverse culture, and a commitment to one another to actively participate in life together. Together – as a community of neighbors - we will create Covington’s future. Preserving the spirit of community that we share is at the heart of Candace’s work as a professional public administrator. She thrives on community development - working with people to solve problems, make plans, and celebrate life. Her passion for this work and her desire to do it in her own home town are what is driving her quest to return to the Mayor’s office.

 

Efficiency in private business is driven by competition and the need to create profit. In government efficiency exists by design. We often hear that government should be run like a business. However, government revenues aren’t generated by sales as in private business, they are dictated by taxes and taxes are set by the public’s willingness to pay. Candace knows that government needs to provide the most service for the least cost, and efficiency is the key to operating a city at maximum capacity and minimum cost. Avoiding waste and making every dollar of our budget count will keep the cost of living in Covington low, making it affordable for the next generation so that our children will be our newest neighbors.

 

Participation is essential to effective government and community development. Candace wants to put the “public” back into public administration by creating more opportunities for involvement in governance and civic organizations. Participation increases our capacity to get things done, taps into the talent in our community, expanding brain power, manpower, and collaborative support. City government must have an effective outreach plan to let the public know that their voices are welcome and necessary to maximize Covington’s success. Everyone needs to be included and made to feel like part of the community. Candace will reach out and engage the public.

Her Plan - priorities

Downtown Revitalization (Creating commerce to keep your taxes low)

Historically, 45% of Covington’s operating and capital expenses are paid with sales tax revenue. Those taxes are generated by the city’s merchants including retailers, the hotel, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants. Maintaining and growing that revenue depends on the success of our merchants and restauranteurs. City government must actively participate in attracting customers and businesses to the city and focus on business retention and recruitment. It’s time to reinstate the Covington Downtown Development Committee and reactivate the city’s Main Street Program. Candace will identify an executive director and appoint a volunteer board to reboot the city’s Main Street Program to increase retail activity, therefore increasing sales tax revenue, and fill empty buildings with additional shops and businesses.

Candace began her career in public service in1997 as the CDDC Executive Director. At that time the city was a member of the Louisiana Main Street Program in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The four-point Main Street approach includes Organization, Promotion, Design, and Business Retention and Recruitment. It’s a cyclical process that moves through phases – catalyst, growth and management. Candace sees that it’s time to go back to the beginning, identify and train a director, and appoint a volunteer board of residents and business owners to fill empty buildings and increase customer traffic downtown and along the Tyler St. and Collins Blvd. commercial corridors.

 

Drainage, Flood Risk and Resilience

Drainage is an increasingly serious issue as proven by the flooding of 300+ homes in the Severe Storms of 2016. The city needs to prioritize drainage capacity improvement projects and maintenance to prevent flooding and increase resilience from disasters; strengthen the city’s development standards for both new and infill construction; pursue an updated flood map; and improve the city’s Community Rating System class to lower flood insurance premiums. As a former Certified Floodplain Manager and Disaster Recovery Specialist, Candace is well familiar with the problem and the process to deal with it. We must increase the city’s resilience to protect our residents. Candace will identify and pursue drainage capacity projects that will qualify for HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds that will be sent to the state as a result of the 2016 storms. She will propose higher development standards to prevent flooding and encourage all property owners to purchase flood insurance.

 

Planning and Land Use (What can be built where and how)

It is long past time to update the city’s Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan. The last update was produced by the Watkins administration in 2007. A community driven Comprehensive Plan is the city’s road map for development and the basis for zoning, and avoiding arbitrary and capricious zoning and permitting decisions. Candace will take immediate steps to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan through an intensive public process that enlists the participation of everyone in the community. We will revisit the collective vision for future development; the Future Land Use Map that reflects the development patterns that support the vision; and all components of the Plan that outline a pathway to make the vision a reality: land use, transportation, housing, infrastructure, economic development, parks and recreation, community appearance and the natural environment.

 The process gives us all an opportunity to express our individual preferences and to consider new concepts for future development.

 

Traffic Congestion

Rapid growth in St. Tammany Parish without an equally rapid development of infrastructure has caused the short drive from the Causeway to downtown Covington to take longer than crossing the Causeway. The good news is that the widening of the Highway 190 bridge over the Bogue Falaya River is scheduled for bid in 2020. Keeping the pressure on the Regional Planning Commission to include additional projects necessary to relieve congestion in and out of the city in the regional Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) is critical. Candace will use her relationships at the federal, state and regional levels to lobby for the funding for these necessary improvements and assist St. Tammany Parish in building east west routes that will take pressure off of Interstate 12. She will also hire professional transportation planners and designers to develop creative ways to improve flows throughout the city, and create connectivity between neighborhoods that provides alternate routes.

 

Sewer and Water Infrastructure

Some of the most important infrastructure in the city is not visible to the public. What is underground – water delivery pipes and sewer collection pipes – affects our quality of life daily. Deterioration of sewer lines and leaking water pipes lead to potholes in our streets, sewer overflows at manholes and backups into homes.  The older pipes in the city are in dire need of attention. We must immediately identify funds to reline old sewer pipes, and make point repairs to water lines. This work needs to be prioritized over other luxury capital improvements. Treatment methods that prevent odors at the treatment plant and lift stations must be employed as well. The Watkins administration increased the treatment plant capacity by 50% in 2008 and brought the entire sewer system into compliance. Candace will continue that work to make further improvements to eliminate environmental violations, prevent backups at manholes and in homes, and increase capacity for future growth.

 

West Thirties Transformation

Substandard housing conditions in the West Thirties have deterred investment that would raise all other standards for maintenance and further development in the neighborhood. In 2011 Candace hired experts in “healthy neighborhood” planning to produce the West 30s Revitalization Plan. Candace will implement that plan to attract quality housing development while avoiding displacement of life long residents with limited means, and attract uses that are compatible with the courthouse and central business district as a natural extension of downtown. She will enforce the Safe Housing Ordinance to guarantee safe, secure, and sanitary housing and propose laws that can speed up the process of putting abandoned properties back into commerce.

 

Recreation

Covington is the only city in St. Tammany with its own recreation department. CRD has always struggled to maintain quality programs under a small budget. It’s time to measure the public desire for improved recreation programs for everyone from children to seniors. If the demand exists, the city should engage the St. Tammany Parish Council and Recreation District 14 in a conversation about redrawing the District 14 map to include Covington and ask the voters if they want to be part of a larger recreation program. That means moving the city out of Recreation District 10 (which has never been funded) and into Recreation District 14. It also means spreading the cost over a much larger population, but assuming the property tax that funds the district which would require voter approval.

In 2008 the Watkins administration built the Covington Recreation Complex on land donated by the Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic. Even with this lovely park, CRD has limited resources. Candace will investigate combining resources with a funded recreation district to access higher quality recreation programs.

Her Track Record

Candace’s work for the city produced:

  • Katrina response and recovery
  • Covington Trailhead and Museum
  • Covington Recreation Complex
  • Boston Street Streetscape project funding and design
  • Sewer treatment plant expansion and improvements
  • 4,000 new water meters
  • Fuhrmann Auditorium renovation
  • 19th Avenue and 28th Avenue bridge replacements
  • City pool restoration
  • City Hall relocation and renovation
  • Police Department renovation
  • Fire Station II purchase
  • 30+ miles of asphalt street overlay
  • Tammany Trace bridge connection and crossing
  • Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan update 2007
  • New Zoning Ordinance
  • Entire city rezoning
  • Safe Housing Ordinance
  • Elimination of double taxation in former FD-12 areas
  • Columbia Street Block Party
  • Rockin’ the Rails concert series
  • Symphony Swing in the Pines

 

Let’s Get Together!

Candace’s grassroots campaign is largely dependent on her ability to talk with voters one on one or in small groups. She will be walking door to door to reach out to voters. In the meantime, she is reaching out to anyone who would like to host a small group for what she calls a kitchen table conversation to hear more from voters about what’s important to them and to share her ideas. To host a group visit, please contact Candace at:

 985-249-8646 or

candacewatkins@yahoo.com.

Picture Covington with free-flowing traffic where short distances are still short trips, where you can enjoy the rainfall without fear of rising water, where all the buildings in downtown are full of shops and businesses, where pride of ownership is obvious in the way people maintain their properties, and everyone is actively involved in some aspect of community life. That’s the Covington Candace imagines and believes is achievable.

Candace is a proven servant leader. Her 12 years of service to the city as Mayor (2003 – 2011) and Downtown Development Director (1997 – 2001) produced   Covington’s landmark Trailhead and Recreation Complex, and events including the Final Friday Block Parties and Rockin’ the Rails concert series. She led the city through the response efforts to hurricane Katrina and expedited recovery, removing over 500,000 cubic yards of debris from the city at minimal expense to property owners. Her administration expanded the sewer treatment plant to bring the city into environmental compliance and accommodate growth, modernized the city’s zoning ordinance, updated the city’s Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan, replaced over 4,000 water meters bringing the water delivery system and utility fund into the 21st century, renovated the pool at Peter Atkins Park, moved City Hall to the Greater Covington Center, renovated the Fuhrmann Auditorium…and the list goes on. Her record of success was achieved in the wake of hurricane Katrina and duration of the Great Recession showing her grace under pressure and commitment to thoughtful cautious management principles, while constantly looking ahead to anticipate needs and opportunities. Candace can execute and deliver.

 After leaving city government she went on to lead the Department of Community Development in St. Bernard Parish, and most recently was a member of the National Disaster Resilience team with the State of Louisiana Office of Community Development. She is married to Trevor Watkins, Principal of St. Paul’s School. They have three sons, a daughter, and two granddaughters. She is a member of St. Peter Parish where she participates in the music ministry as a cantor. See Candace’s full resume.

Community is the reason government exists – to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. By choosing to live in Covington we have all made the conscious decision to be part of a community – a group of people who share a colorful history, a diverse culture, and a commitment to one another to actively participate in life together. Together – as a community of neighbors - we will create Covington’s future. Preserving the spirit of community that we share is at the heart of Candace’s work as a professional public administrator. She thrives on community development - working with people to solve problems, make plans, and celebrate life. Her passion for this work and her desire to do it in her own home town are what is driving her quest to return to the Mayor’s office.

 

Efficiency in private business is driven by competition and the need to create profit. In government efficiency exists by design. We often hear that government should be run like a business. However, government revenues aren’t generated by sales as in private business, they are dictated by taxes and taxes are set by the public’s willingness to pay. Candace knows that government needs to provide the most service for the least cost, and efficiency is the key to operating a city at maximum capacity and minimum cost. Avoiding waste and making every dollar of our budget count will keep the cost of living in Covington low, making it affordable for the next generation so that our children will be our newest neighbors.

 

Participation is essential to effective government and community development. Candace wants to put the “public” back into public administration by creating more opportunities for involvement in governance and civic organizations. Participation increases our capacity to get things done, taps into the talent in our community, expanding brain power, manpower, and collaborative support. City government must have an effective outreach plan to let the public know that their voices are welcome and necessary to maximize Covington’s success. Everyone needs to be included and made to feel like part of the community. Candace will reach out and engage the public.

Downtown Revitalization (Creating commerce to keep your taxes low)

Historically, 45% of Covington’s operating and capital expenses are paid with sales tax revenue. Those taxes are generated by the city’s merchants including retailers, the hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfasts. Maintaining and growing that revenue depends on the success of our merchants and restauranteurs. City government must actively participate in attracting customers and businesses to the city and focus on business retention and recruitment. It’s time to reinstate the Covington Downtown Development Committee and reactivate the city’s Main Street Program. Candace will identify an executive director and appoint a volunteer board to reboot the city’s Main Street Program to increase retail activity, therefore increasing sales tax revenue, and fill empty buildings with additional shops and businesses.

    Candace began her career in public service in1997 as the CDDC Executive Director. At that time the city was a member of the Louisiana Main Street Program in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The four-point Main Street approach includes Organization, Promotion, Design, and Business Retention and Recruitment. It’s a cyclical process that moves through phases – catalyst, growth and management. Candace sees that it’s time to go back to the beginning, identify and train a director, and appoint a volunteer board of residents and business owners to fill empty buildings and increase customer traffic downtown and along the Tyler St. and Collins Blvd. commercial corridors.

 

Drainage, Flood Risk and Resilience

Drainage is an increasingly serious issue as proven by the flooding of 300+ homes in the Severe Storms of 2016. The city needs to prioritize drainage capacity improvement projects and maintenance to prevent flooding and increase resilience from disasters; strengthen the city’s development standards for both new and infill construction; pursue an updated flood map; and improve the city’s Community Rating System class to lower flood insurance premiums. As a former Certified Floodplain Manager and Disaster Recovery Specialist, Candace is well familiar with the problem and the process to deal with it. We must increase the city’s resilience to protect our residents. Candace will identify and pursue drainage capacity projects that will qualify for HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds that will be sent to the state as a result of the 2016 storms. She will propose higher development standards to prevent flooding and encourage all property owners to purchase flood insurance.

 

Planning and Land Use (What can be built where and how)

It is long past time to update the city’s Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan. The last update was produced by the Watkins administration in 2007. A community driven Comprehensive Plan is the city’s road map for development and the basis for zoning, and avoiding arbitrary and capricious zoning and permitting decisions. Candace will take immediate steps to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan through an intensive public process that enlists the participation of everyone in the community. We will revisit the collective vision for future development; the Future Land Use Map that reflects the development patterns that support the vision; and all components of the Plan that outline a pathway to make the vision a reality: land use, transportation, housing, infrastructure, economic development, parks and recreation, community appearance and the natural environment.

 The process gives us all an opportunity to express our individual preferences and to consider new concepts for future development.

 

Traffic Congestion

Rapid growth in St. Tammany Parish without an equally rapid development of infrastructure has caused the short drive from the Causeway to downtown Covington to take longer than crossing the Causeway. The good news is that the widening of the Highway 190 bridge over the Bogue Falaya River is scheduled for bid in 2020. Keeping the pressure on the Regional Planning Commission to include additional projects necessary to relieve congestion in and out of the city in the regional Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) is critical. Candace will use her relationships at the federal, state and regional levels to lobby for the funding for these necessary improvements and assist St. Tammany Parish in building east west routes that will take pressure off of Interstate 12. She will also hire professional transportation planners and designers to develop creative ways to improve flows throughout the city, and create connectivity between neighborhoods that provides alternate routes.

 

Sewer and Water Infrastructure

Some of the most important infrastructure in the city is not visible to the public. What is underground – water delivery pipes and sewer collection pipes – affects our quality of life daily. Deterioration of sewer lines and leaking water pipes lead to potholes in our streets, sewer overflows at manholes and backups into homes.  The older pipes in the city are in dire need of attention. We must immediately identify funds to reline old sewer pipes, and make point repairs to water lines. This work needs to be prioritized over other luxury capital improvements. Treatment methods that prevent odors at the treatment plant and lift stations must be employed as well. The Watkins administration increased the treatment plant capacity by 50% in 2008 and brought the entire sewer system into compliance. Candace will continue that work to make further improvements to eliminate environmental violations, prevent backups at manholes and in homes, and increase capacity for future growth.

 

West Thirties Transformation

Substandard housing conditions in the West Thirties have deterred investment that would raise all other standards for maintenance and further development in the neighborhood. In 2011 Candace hired experts in “healthy neighborhood” planning to produce the West 30s Revitalization Plan. Candace will implement that plan to attract quality housing development while avoiding displacement of life long residents with limited means, and attract uses that are compatible with the courthouse and central business district as a natural extension of downtown. She will enforce the Safe Housing Ordinance to guarantee safe, secure, and sanitary housing and propose laws that can speed up the process of putting abandoned properties back into commerce.

 

Recreation

Covington is the only city in St. Tammany with its own recreation department. CRD has always struggled to maintain quality programs under a small budget. It’s time to measure the public desire for improved recreation programs for everyone from children to seniors. If the demand exists, the city should engage the St. Tammany Parish Council and Recreation District 14 in a conversation about redrawing the District 14 map to include Covington and ask the voters if they want to be part of a larger recreation program. That means moving the city out of Recreation District 10 (which has never been funded) and into Recreation District 14. It also means spreading the cost over a much larger population, but assuming the property tax that funds the district which would require voter approval.

In 2008 the Watkins administration built the Covington Recreation Complex on land donated by the Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic. Even with this lovely park, CRD has limited resources. Candace will investigate combining resources with a funded recreation district to access higher quality recreation programs.

Candace’s work for the city produced:

  • Katrina response and recovery
  • Covington Trailhead and Museum
  • Covington Recreation Complex
  • Boston Street Streetscape project funding and design
  • Sewer treatment plant expansion and improvements
  • 4,000 new water meters
  • Fuhrmann Auditorium renovation
  • 19th Avenue and 28th Avenue bridge replacements
  • City pool restoration
  • City Hall relocation and renovation
  • Police Department renovation
  • Fire Station II purchase
  • 30+ miles of asphalt street overlay
  • Tammany Trace bridge connection and crossing
  • Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan Update 2007
  • New Zoning Ordinance
  • Entire city rezoning
  • Safe Housing Ordinance
  • Elimination of double taxation in former FD-12 areas
  • Columbia Street Block Party
  • Rockin’ the Rails concert series
  • Symphony Swing in the Pines

 

A mayor is more than a city’s top ambassador. A mayor is a thought leader who solves complex problems. A mayor is a municipal CEO who directs the operation of a city - a specialized body of work. A mayor secures resources to provide services and infrastructure and identifies opportunities to leverage assets to enhance a city’s fiscal position. A mayor is responsible for training, guiding and motivating a city’s workforce. A mayor is a visionary, a steward, a custodian, an urban planner and designer, an organizer, a diplomat, a facilities manager, and a fellow citizen. A mayor is responsible for directing all the moving parts of the environment in which the community thrives.

As Covington’s CEO the Mayor directs and sets policy for the management and maintenance of our sewer and water utilities and road, bridge and drainage systems; fire and police protection; planning and zoning; building permits and safety; finance and budgeting; economic development; and recreation. No CEO steps directly into the job without the specialized knowledge and experience to do the job. Candace is the only candidate who knows firsthand what it takes to do the job because she’s the only candidate who has already done the job. Governing a city is part art, part science, and part instinct. She’s proven that she knows and understands the science, she’s practiced the art, and she has sharpened her instincts.

Candace is a proven servant leader. Her 12 years of service to the city as Mayor (2003 – 2011) and Downtown Development Director (1997 – 2001) produced   Covington’s landmark Trailhead and Recreation Complex, and events including the Final Friday Block Parties and Rockin’ the Rails concert series. She led the city through the response efforts to hurricane Katrina and expedited recovery, removing over 500,000 cubic yards of debris from the city at minimal expense to property owners. Her administration expanded the sewer treatment plant to bring the city into environmental compliance and accommodate growth, modernized the city’s zoning ordinance, updated the city’s Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan, replaced over 4,000 water meters bringing the water delivery system and utility fund into the 21st century, renovated the pool at Peter Atkins Park, moved City Hall to the Greater Covington Center, renovated the Fuhrmann Auditorium…and the list goes on. Her record of success was achieved in the wake of hurricane Katrina and duration of the Great Recession showing her grace under pressure and commitment to thoughtful cautious management principles, while constantly looking ahead to anticipate needs and opportunities. Candace can execute and deliver.

 After leaving city government she went on to lead the Department of Community Development in St. Bernard Parish, and most recently was a member of the National Disaster Resilience team with the State of Louisiana Office of Community Development. She is married to Trevor Watkins, Principal of St. Paul’s School. They have three sons, a daughter, and two granddaughters. She is a member of St. Peter Parish where she participates in the music ministry as a cantor. See Candace’s full resume.

Community is the reason government exists – to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. By choosing to live in Covington we have all made the conscious decision to be part of a community – a group of people who share a colorful history, a diverse culture, and a commitment to one another to actively participate in life together. Together – as a community of neighbors - we will create Covington’s future. Preserving the spirit of community that we share is at the heart of Candace’s work as a professional public administrator. She thrives on community development - working with people to solve problems, make plans, and celebrate life. Her passion for this work and her desire to do it in her own home town are what is driving her quest to return to the Mayor’s office.

 

Efficiency in private business is driven by competition and the need to create profit. In government efficiency exists by design. We often hear that government should be run like a business. However, government revenues aren’t generated by sales as in private business, they are dictated by taxes and taxes are set by the public’s willingness to pay. Candace knows that government needs to provide the most service for the least cost, and efficiency is the key to operating a city at maximum capacity and minimum cost. Avoiding waste and making every dollar of our budget count will keep the cost of living in Covington low, making it affordable for the next generation so that our children will be our newest neighbors.

 

Participation is essential to effective government and community development. Candace wants to put the “public” back into public administration by creating more opportunities for involvement in governance and civic organizations. Participation increases our capacity to get things done, taps into the talent in our community, expanding brain power, manpower, and collaborative support. City government must have an effective outreach plan to let the public know that their voices are welcome and necessary to maximize Covington’s success. Everyone needs to be included and made to feel like part of the community. Candace will reach out and engage the public.

 

Downtown Revitalization

(Creating commerce to keep your taxes low)

Historically, 45% of Covington’s operating and capital expenses are paid with sales tax revenue. Those taxes are generated by the city’s merchants including retailers, the hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfasts . Maintaining and growing that revenue depends on the success of our merchants and restauranteurs. City government must actively participate in attracting customers and businesses to the city and focus on business retention and recruitment. It’s time to reinstate the Covington Downtown Development Committee and reactivate the city’s Main Street Program. Candace will identify an executive director and appoint a volunteer board to reboot the city’s Main Street Program to increase retail activity, therefore increasing sales tax revenue, and fill empty buildings with additional shops and businesses.

Candace began her career in public service in1997 as the CDDC Executive Director. At that time the city was a member of the Louisiana Main Street Program in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The four-point Main Street approach includes Organization, Promotion, Design, and Business Retention and Recruitment. It’s a cyclical process that moves through phases – catalyst, growth and management. Candace sees that it’s time to go back to the beginning, identify and train a director, and appoint a volunteer board of residents and business owners to fill empty buildings and increase customer traffic downtown and along the Tyler St. and Collins Blvd. commercial corridors.

 

Drainage, Flood Risk and Resilience

Drainage is an increasingly serious issue as proven by the flooding of 300+ homes in the Severe Storms of 2016. The city needs to prioritize drainage capacity improvement projects and maintenance to prevent flooding and increase resilience from disasters; strengthen the city’s development standards for both new and infill construction; pursue an updated flood map; and improve the city’s Community Rating System class to lower flood insurance premiums. As a former Certified Floodplain Manager and Disaster Recovery Specialist, Candace is well familiar with the problem and the process to deal with it. We must increase the city’s resilience to protect our residents. Candace will identify and pursue drainage capacity projects that will qualify for HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds that will be sent to the state as a result of the 2016 storms. She will propose higher development standards to prevent flooding and encourage all property owners to purchase flood insurance.

 

Planning and Land Use

(What can be built where and how)

It is long past time to update the city’s Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan. The last update was produced by the Watkins administration in 2007. A community driven Comprehensive Plan is the city’s road map for development and the basis for zoning, and avoiding arbitrary and capricious zoning and permitting decisions. Candace will take immediate steps to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan through an intensive public process that enlists the participation of everyone in the community. We will revisit the collective vision for future development; the Future Land Use Map that reflects the development patterns that support the vision; and all components of the Plan that outline a pathway to make the vision a reality: land use, transportation, housing, infrastructure, economic development, parks and recreation, community appearance and the natural environment.

 The process gives us all an opportunity to express our individual preferences and to consider new concepts for future development.

 

Traffic Congestion

Rapid growth in St. Tammany Parish without an equally rapid development of infrastructure has caused the short drive from the Causeway to downtown Covington to take longer than crossing the Causeway. The good news is that the widening of the Highway 190 bridge over the Bogue Falaya River is scheduled for bid in 2020. Keeping the pressure on the Regional Planning Commission to include additional projects necessary to relieve congestion in and out of the city in the regional Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) is critical. Candace will use her relationships at the federal, state and regional levels to lobby for the funding for these necessary improvements and assist St. Tammany Parish in building east west routes that will take pressure off of Interstate 12. She will also hire professional transportation planners and designers to develop creative ways to improve flows throughout the city, and create connectivity between neighborhoods that provides alternate routes.

 

Sewer and Water Infrastructure

Some of the most important infrastructure in the city is not visible to the public. What is underground – water delivery pipes and sewer collection pipes – affects our quality of life daily. Deterioration of sewer lines and leaking water pipes lead to potholes in our streets, sewer overflows at manholes and backups into homes.  The older pipes in the city are in dire need of attention. We must immediately identify funds to reline old sewer pipes, and make point repairs to water lines. This work needs to be prioritized over other luxury capital improvements. Treatment methods that prevent odors at the treatment plant and lift stations must be employed as well. The Watkins administration increased the treatment plant capacity by 50% in 2008 and brought the entire sewer system into compliance. Candace will continue that work to make further improvements to eliminate environmental violations, prevent backups at manholes and in homes, and increase capacity for future growth.

 

West Thirties Transformation

Substandard housing conditions in the West Thirties have deterred investment that would raise all other standards for maintenance and further development in the neighborhood. In 2011 Candace hired experts in “healthy neighborhood” planning to produce the West 30s Revitalization Plan. Candace will implement that plan to attract quality housing development while avoiding displacement of life long residents with limited means, and attract uses that are compatible with the courthouse and central business district as a natural extension of downtown. She will enforce the Safe Housing Ordinance to guarantee safe, secure, and sanitary housing and propose laws that can speed up the process of putting abandoned properties back into commerce.

 

Recreation

Covington is the only city in St. Tammany with its own recreation department. CRD has always struggled to maintain quality programs under a small budget. It’s time to measure the public desire for improved recreation programs for everyone from children to seniors. If the demand exists, the city should engage the St. Tammany Parish Council and Recreation District 14 in a conversation about redrawing the District 14 map to include Covington and ask the voters if they want to be part of a larger recreation program. That means moving the city out of Recreation District 10 (which has never been funded) and into Recreation District 14. It also means spreading the cost over a much larger population, but assuming the property tax that funds the district which would require voter approval.

In 2008 the Watkins administration built the Covington Recreation Complex on land donated by the Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic. Even with this lovely park, CRD has limited resources. Candace will investigate combining resources with a funded recreation district to access higher quality recreation programs.

Candace’s work for the city produced:

  • Katrina response and recovery
  • Covington Trailhead and Museum
  • Covington Recreation Complex
  • Boston Street Streetscape project funding and design
  • Sewer treatment plant expansion and improvements
  • 4,000 new water meters
  • Fuhrmann Auditorium renovation
  • 19th Avenue and 28th Avenue bridge replacements
  • City pool restoration
  • City Hall relocation and renovation
  • Police Department renovation
  • Fire Station II purchase
  • 30+ miles of asphalt street overlay
  • Tammany Trace bridge connection and crossing
  • Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan Update 2007
  • New Zoning Ordinance
  • Entire city rezoning
  • Safe Housing Ordinance
  • Elimination of double taxation in former FD-12 areas
  • Columbia Street Block Party
  • Rockin’ the Rails concert series
  • Symphony Swing in the Pines

 

The Candidate -

Passion and Know-how