JEANERETTE — Leo Lee and Tia Simmons haven’t held public offices before, but they’re both vying to represent the city of Jeanerette as alderman-at-large.
Simmons, 56, said it’s something she always wanted to do and decided it was time. She’s not registered with a particular party.
Simmons, a New Orleans native, moved to Jeanerette 30 years ago when she married Cameron Simmons, now Jeanerette’s city judge. The two have a daughter, Jennifer, who recently married, and a son, Cameron Jr., who’s in medical school.
For her, Simmons said the job begins with getting the city’s finances in order.
“I think it’s a lot easier when you’re financially sound to bring in more business and keep people here,” she said. “I think it’s the first step to allowing the city to grow. I want people to be proud to be from Jeanerette. I don’t want them to keep leaving.”
Simmons said she’s been a business consultant since 2002, which she thinks gives her the experience to help Jeanerette regain its footing.
She’s also served in almost a dozen community organizations through which she’s won a number of awards.
Lee, 32, is a Jeanerette native and works as the Safety, Health and Environmental Representative at Dynamic Industries. He’s married to Frankie Kirt-Lee and has two children Lyric and Legend.
He said he never thought he would run for office, but decided to use wisdom imparted from his grandfather.
“I was always the one to sit back and gossip about how poor of a job the next man or woman was doing,” he said in an email.
“My grandfather, Leo Molo, always told me, ‘If you’re not willing to do anything about it, then stop complaining about it.’ So here I am, a lifelong resident of Jeanerette, who is no longer sitting back talking about what’s not getting done or how it’s supposed to be done.”
Lee, who is a registered Democrat, said he wants to make youth a priority and plans to ask neighboring colleges, universities and trade schools to “to help us set up a road map to success.”
He also said he wants to look at efficiencies and inefficiencies in government and bring jobs to the city.
He said he wants to get an accountant and someone with an MBA to set up a system of accountability for every city department and city-run program.
“We have to find out if they are achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense,” he said.
He did not say how that would be funded.
Lee also said he would like to make a proposal to the Board of Aldermen to get with agencies in the parish to let Jeanerette be a part of their advertisement.
Early voting for the Oct. 19 election begins Oct. 5 and runs through Oct. 12. Sample ballots are available at the Iberia Parish Registrar’s Office.