SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - St. Tammany's largest city faces big challenges when it comes to flood control infrastructure and crime. And in just over two weeks, voters will elect a new mayor to tackle those issues.
With relatively safe streets, good city services and a laid back attitude, the people of Slidell like their quality of life. But there are big challenges facing the four candidates vying to be the city's next mayor.
"We grow the economy and people will follow that," said candidate and state Rep. Greg Cromer.
"With Textron, we got to work with the congressional delegation to bring it to the region," said candidate and former parish president Kevin Davis.
"Crime, with the opioid epidemic, creates more crime," said candidate and Slidell Councilman L. Landon Cusimano.
"What they tell me they want is new ideas, not the same box," said candidate and former hospital executive Bruce Clement.
Candidates say Slidell is actually losing population. And the loss of major employers like the now-shuttered Textron military plant, are considered a big issue.
"I will go in front of CEOs of these companies and get them to relocate to Slidell," said Cusimano.
"Use people in the community vested in Slidell, put a core group together," said Clement.
"Job retention, vacant buildings, coming up with a good plan and dealing blighted property around the city," said Davis.
"With north-south rails and roads, we are prime to bring jobs serving Michoud and Stennis," said Cromer.
In an election to be held later this month, each candidate says crime, infrastructure and flood control are major issues. All would like to see state money restored to finish a ring levee, and all have varied opinions on what the mayor's role might be when it comes to a long-proposed $1 billion floodwall across the Rigolets, which would protect south Slidell and other communities around Lake Pontchartrian.
"The mayor would be a cheerleader," said Davis.
"I would rather do that than raise levees around our communities," said Cromer.
"That's going to be a tough reality for the future, that will cost billions of dollars," said Cusimano.
"I want to study if it makes sense, that's the direction we want to go in," said Clement.
Each candidate brings extensive political and business experience to the race.
"I've been a health care executive for my career, and just finished a 33 year stint at Slidell as COO," said Clement.
"All my years as parish president and as a businessman, and I was secretary of homeland security for Louisiana," said Davis
"Worked at Michoud for 27 years," said Cromer.
"I am council at large, and council president 18 years on Slidell council," said Cusimano.
With current mayor Freddy Drennan term limited out, all 4 candidates believe they have what it takes to keep this city moving forward.
The Slidell mayor's election will be held March 24. If no one gets 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will meet in a runoff April 28.