A Statement From Parish Presidential Candidate Karen Champagne

I will not be participating in the East/West St. Tammany Chambers of Commerce’s Parish President Forum.
Although I initially accepted the invitation to participate, I have informed the East & West Chambers that I will not be attending. This is the first in what will be many decisions in which I will choose the taxpayers and our constitution over special interests.
I have several reasons for my decision.

In my opinion:
1.) The list of East/West Chamber members is staggering in so far as it includes utility companies; developers; city council members; the superintendent of our parish schools; government agencies; and, quasi-govermental agencies, including both the Northshore Business Council–for which President Brister served as Executive Director–and the Regional Planning Commission–for which both of my opponents have been members & leaders. We should all be reminded that all three groups–the Northshore Business Council & the East & West Chambers–threw their support and influence behind the tax renewals for the courthouse and jail.…after the voters had said, “NO!”
Is it any wonder that individual citizens/taxpayers continue to express to me their frustration in not being given even a small consideration in parish policy?!?
2.) While I understand that many small business owners join the East or West Chambers simply as a networking opportunity, their Chambers’ leadership continues to have a degree of access to our government officials that most taxpayers/citizens do not have. It is this access, and the activities of the East/West Chambers’ Political Action Committee that have allowed this organization to have undue influence over policy in our parish.
3.) If elected, it is my intention to end the “pay-to-play” politics in St. Tammany Parish. To do this, the East & West Chambers will have the same access as any other citizen–nothing more, nothing less.
4.) The way I look at it, this may as well start now. I do hope to speak with as many Chamber members as possible and to hear their INDIVIDUAL concerns as I continue to meet with voters across this parish.
5.) Some may say that a relative unknown such as myself should take advantage of the fact that the East & West Chambers’ forum is being sponsored by the Advocate & the Times Picayune/Nola .com.
Not really…The Advocate is the Official Journal of the State of Louisiana. So…the largest publication in the state is charged with reporting on behalf of state government.
Since The Advocate recently purchased the Times Picayune/Nola .com and has purchased other local publications throughout the state, increasingly, the largest publications in each parish are simply reporting on behalf of their parish governments.
I’ll take my chances on the street…sharing my story and vision…with the voters/citizens.

I encourage the East/West Chamber members to join us in getting government out of the way of business and out of the pockets of taxpayers. It’s a simple idea: the more we each have to spend, the more businesses will benefit.
Visit karenchampagne.com for more information.