PRESS RELEASE – May 21, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Candace Watkins
Former Mayor Candace Watkins announced today that she has resigned her position with the Louisiana Office of Community Development Disaster Recovery Unit to become a candidate in the 2019 Covington mayor’s race. Watkins plans to run on her record of service as mayor from 2003 – 2011 and her continued accumulation of experience and qualifications since leaving office working at both the parish and state levels. Prior to becoming mayor, Watkins served for four years as the city’s Downtown Development Director.
As mayor, Watkins led an administration that built the Covington Trailhead & Museum and the Covington Recreation Complex, expanded and improved the sewer treatment plant and collection system, secured the completion of the Tammany Trace bridge across the Bogue Falaya River, renovated the Fuhrmann Auditorium, moved City Hall to the Greater Covington Center, renovated old City Hall for the Police Department, guided the response and recovery from hurricane Katrina, shepherded the city through the economic challenges of the Great Recession, replaced over 4,000 water meters with electronic meters that supported the financial improvements to the utility fund, and updated the city’s Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan. Examples of major policy initiatives during the Watkins administration include a complete rewrite of the city’s zoning ordinance and establishment of the safe housing law.
As mayor, Watkins plans to:
• reinstate the Covington Downtown Development Committee and rejoin the Louisiana Main Street Program to renew the downtown revitalization effort, focusing on retail activity to support the downtown business community, strengthen sales tax revenues within the city limits, and fill empty buildings with additional shops and businesses
• update the city’s Comprehensive Master Land Use Plan to revisit the collective vision for the city’s future and amend the Plan and zoning ordinance to reflect that vision
• enforce development codes that protect the people who are already here against increased flood risk
• put the “public” back into public administration by increasing and welcoming public participation in governance, and city events and activities
• implement the West 30s Revitalization Plan
• with voter approval, investigate the possibility of moving the city from Recreation District 10 to Recreation District 14
• develop city-sponsored social activities and recreation programs for seniors
• stay ahead of bridge and other infrastructure repairs and maintenance to avoid street closures
• monitor the Regional Planning Commission to keep the Bogue Falaya bridge widening project on track for bidding in 2020
Since leaving office former Mayor Watkins has continued to build her resume in public administration, community planning and development, and nonprofit work. She spent her first six months out of office in 2011 working as the volunteer CEO of the Southeast Louisiana Boys & Girls Clubs initiating a renaissance of the struggling organization, and subsequently served as Corporate Board Chair. She joined the parish president’s cabinet in St. Bernard Parish in 2012 as the Director of Community Development where she supervised Planning and Zoning, Building Permits and Safety, and Coastal Zone Management. During her tenure she secured a $400,000 grant from the LA Office of Community Development for the parish’s first Comprehensive Master Plan and led that planning process. From St. Bernard, Watkins moved on to the state Office of Community Development where she has served as a Disaster Recovery Specialist on the Policy and Strategic Initiatives team, rebuilding hurricane impacted communities. She also assisted with the internationally renowned Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement Project and the LA SAFE planning initiative. Watkins spent a year as the Executive Officer of the Northshore Home Builders Association in 2015 during which the organization completed a merger between the St. Tammany Home Builders Association and the Tangipahoa Home Builders Association, built the organization’s new office building in Lacombe, and held the first Year-Round Raffle fundraiser
prior to returning to state government in 2016.
Watkins is planning a fundraiser featuring Majority Whip, Congressman Steve Scalise and a “Grassroots Garden Party” for supporters to officially kick off her campaign. She intends to walk door to door to meet voters literally where they live and hopes to schedule at least three forums with the other candidates so that the public can interview them for the job side by side.
Watkins may be considered late to the party as two other candidates have been on the campaign trail for the past two years. “I’m not retired or self-employed” Watkins stated. “I hope the public can identify with my needing my job and having to remain employed as long as possible.” State policy prohibits employees from being a candidate or joining in any political activity. “It’s my job now to convince the voters that I am the most qualified, experienced, and industrious candidate, and that experience and qualifications matter. The election is almost year away which is plenty of time for voters to make an informed decision.”
Candace is married to Trevor Watkins and has three sons, a daughter, and two granddaughters. She is urging voters to contact her at (985) 249-8646 to discuss the race and the city’s future. Watkins was Covington’s first Republican and first female mayor.