Cooper and Cromer face off in race for St. Tammany Parish president

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 8:02 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Voters in St. Tammany Parish will choose between two seasoned politicians in the race for parish president.

Mike Cooper is the incumbent, and Greg Cromer is his challenger.

Cooper served two terms as Covington mayor before being elected as St. Tammany Parish President. Cromer served on the Slidell City Council and in the state legislature before being elected Mayor of Slidell.

Cooper believes voters should keep him in that job for another four years.

“I’ve been working for the people of St. Tammany over the past four years addressing the growth and development that has outpaced our infrastructure and we’re investing heavily in road, bridge, drainage and utilities infrastructure while putting a pause on high-density, single-family residential development at this time,” said Cooper.

He took office in 2020.

“And also, I took a parish animal shelter and turned it completely around from having a 45% live release rate to where now we’re a no-kill shelter with 97% of animals that come in are being released,” said Cooper.

But Cromer hopes voters hire him to lead parish government.

“That’s pretty simple, I’ve got a proven track record of being able to work with people, develop open communication lines and develop teams that are effective and functional to solve problems and we’ve got some problems that we could do better with in Saint Tammany Parish. It all starts with having a cohesive government.,” said Cromer.

He thinks there is too much friction.

“Just between the parish president, the parish council and the coroner and the DA and the chief justice and the sheriff and all the parish agencies in the two branches of government, there’s definitely a disconnect there,” said Cromer.

Each was asked what they see as St. Tammany’s most pressing problems.

“What’s wrong with the tax system that we have right now like all parishes is that we have funding demands on the parish that aren’t funded by the state legislature. **butt** 9:56:51 “Some of the state mandated obligations that we have that are unfunded is some particular funding for the district attorney office, funding the jail, the correctional facility of the sheriff, funding our judges and other offices in our justice system,” said Cooper.

Cromer said, “The first thing we have to do is mend fences, make bonds, make friends and get parish government all on the same page, if you will, working together and not working apart. We want government that works for us, not fight against each other, so we need to put all that together so that we tackle the problems that we have before us, the financial problems and the infrastructure problems with the roads and drainage that you see right now, some of the congestion and just manage our growth a little better.”

They spoke of the top three things they would tackle if elected.

“Upon re-election obviously we’re going to continue the infrastructure improvements that we’ve begun, we’ve got many in progress right now but also addressing the unfunded state mandates that we have and convening all of the partners, legislative body, congressional and all parties to address this, to find a way of perhaps even reallocating some of the dedicated funding that we have now,” said Cooper.

And thirdly he said, “We have planning initiatives underway too, including a comprehensive parish-wide drainage plan and a comprehensive transportation plan which will lay the foundation for future development.”

Cromer ticked off the areas he would focus on first.

First, we’re going to tackle cooperation and team building, second we’re going to work on building confidence in the team itself and with the public to enable us to do what we need to do to work out the financial issues. If we can work out the financial issues and we can work out the financial issues, it may mean that we have to go back to taxpayer and not ask for more of their money but just to reshuffle their money and be more efficient with the money they’re already giving us.”

Both feel good about their chances of winning.

“I’m excited, I think we’re at a good place in the campaign right now, really anticipating that we’re going to do well in this campaign. We’ve got two more weeks of hard work to put in and there’s enough fuel in the tank to get through the next two weeks,” said Cromer.

Cooper said, “I feel great about our chances, I have a great base of support being a lifelong native of St. Tammany Parish; serving as mayor of Covington for two full terms preceding this term as parish president.”

Early voting begins September 30th for the October 14th election.

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