Before being elected as Parish President, Matassa spent 22 years working for parish government as a supervisor and director of public works, utilities, and the health unit. After working with the building department, he went to work at the health department inspecting mo-dad units, or individual motorized septic tanks, at homes throughout the parish.

Ascension Parish President Kenny has served the community in more ways than one. Currently he serves as the chief elected official in the parish, but many know him from his family restaurant, which he operated in Gonzales for more than a decade.

Matassa was elected to his first term in 2015. In his three years as parish president, he has pushed for improvements across the parish, including sewerage and transportation. But his service to the community began long before taking office.

Matassa is a lifelong resident of Ascension Parish. He was raised in Donaldsonville and currently calls Gonzales home. He spent 20 years working in the private sector. He managed a major retail store, worked as a supervisor in the petrol-chemical industry, and owned and operated a family restaurant. Matassa opened Giuseppe's Restaurant in Gonzales in 1976, where he worked for 13 years before returning to construction.

A few years later after closing his restaurant, parish officials were looking to start a building department in Ascension Parish, and Matassa applied for the position. After landing the job, he went to Baton Rouge for training on permitting and launching such a department. He said the building department started the permit system to ensure builders got what they were paying for.

"It ensured you got a better house," said Matassa. "When we did that, you started getting a better grade of home, and Ascension Parish really took off after that."

Before being elected as Parish President, Matassa spent 22 years working for parish government as a supervisor and director of public works, utilities, and the health unit. After working with the building department, he went to work at the health department inspecting mo-dad units, or individual motorized septic tanks, at homes throughout the parish.

During his time at that department, there was a quarterly commodities program administered by the Quad Area Community Action Agency. The government paid Quad to pick up the goods and distribute them to families across the parish. But when the state stopped putting up the money, it was up to local municipalities to foot the bill.

Matassa worked to find a solution to ensure families still had access to the goods they needed. Initially, they used city work trucks to deliver the food, but the weight of the canned goods was too much for the vehicles. That's when he came up with the idea to start a partnership with the diesel driving academy to help drivers clock their hours and deliver the products. He said at the time this was a vital service to needy families because the community did not have as many local food banks as it does today.

"They've been picking up our goods at the food bank in Baton Rouge and delivering them to Donaldsonville and then the next day to Lamar-Dixon to do distribution quarterly, and it's been working out fine," said Matassa.

In 1999, Matassa helped construct the first animal shelter in Ascension Parish. At the time the parish did animal control but did not have a local adoption program. With a limited budget and the blessing from former-parish president Tommy Martinez, Matassa was instrumental in opening the first such program in the parish.

"It's far greater for everybody to adopt out an animal than to put it to sleep," said Matassa.

Matassa first entered elected public service 19 years ago as a Gonzales City Councilman, where he served as the city's Fire Commissioner. He said through his work in various departments, he learned about some of the issues facing the city and wanted to do what he could to address the problems.

"I like to help people, and I would get called all the time about things," said Matassa. "So I was knowledgeable about government, and I thought I would be a good fit."

It took three times on the ballot for Matassa to make it on the council under then-mayor Johnny Berthelot, who taught him a lot about the inner workings of local government. During his tenure on the council, he helped approve the new sewer line from the Gonzales plant to the Mississippi River. He also had a hand in the construction of Jambalaya Park, where the old treatment plant used to sit.

"Working with the city council was really enjoyable, and it was enjoyable to help people," said Matassa.

It was that desire to serve the public that led Matassa to throw his hat in the ring for the parish presidency. His 2015 campaign was going well, until tragedy struck his family in September, when his youngest son, Nick, was seriously injured in a plant explosion. He spent 15 days in the hospital with his son, as it was unclear if he would recover. Fortunately, Nick is doing much better today, though he still has a long road ahead of him.

It wasn't long after he won the election that tragedy hit the Matassa family again with the passing of his mother in January of 2016. Once taking office, it was still a trial by fire, or rather flood, as Louisiana was under a state of emergency in March due to the first catastrophic rain event of 2016, when the West Bank of the parish was hit hard by widespread flooding.

Matassa had to tap into his skills to work through the issues caused by the flooding. In 2005 when Katrina hit, Ascension was the first parish to have power restored. Matassa was working for the parish at the time and helped to coordinate the use of the old Winn Dixie as a storage and distribution facility for supplies. He used those skills again in 2016 to oversee the recovery operations after the August flood.

Matassa helped get pets and livestock moved to a shelter at Lamar-Dixon before setting up the shelter for people. While staying at the shelter in the Trademark Building, people could even visit their pets daily.

Shortly after the flood, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump came to see the devastation in South Louisiana. Matassa said during his conversations with the future-president he told Mr. Trump about the difficulties the parish had in dealing with red tape on the federal level. Those conversations led to improvements in the federal disaster response.

One major accomplishment Matassa has seen during his administration is the launching of the new Move Ascension initiative. The partnership between the parish and the state department of transportation has helped kick off projects like the Highway 42 widening currently under construction.

When the parish president finds free time, he enjoys spending it with family. Matassa has been married to Selma Guillot Matassa for 44 years, and together they are the proud parents of three children, Kendell, Tony, and Nick. The couple also has eight grandchildren. Matassa said he enjoys taking his grandkids bowling and to the rodeo.

"I like a little down time with my family," said Matassa.

Between working for the people and spending time with his family, President Matassa is right at home in Ascension Parish.

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