Martinez's survey says roads biggest issue in Ascension

Aaron E. Looney

Results of a recent poll commissioned by Parish President Tommy Martinez show that road conditions are at the forefront of public concern in Ascension Parish, and that those polled would support a half-cent sales tax if dedicated to road improvements.

In a presentation made to the Parish Council during its meeting Thursday in the Parish Courthouse, John Diez with Gonzales-based Campaign Opinion and Research broke down the poll's results, showing the council how different demographics responded to questions asking those polled to rank problems in the parish and if they would favor a tax to fund rectifying the situations.

"I can sum this survey up in three words: Traffic, traffic and traffic," Diez told the council.

Of those polled, nearly half - 48.6 percent - said they felt that improving traffic congestion and poor road conditions ranked as the most important problem facing Ascension Parish.

Coming in second, at 21.4 percent, was better management of growth and development.

Other issues ranked as highest by those polled included implementing a parishwide sewer treatment facility (9.2 percent), controlling flooding and improving drainage (8.4 percent), other unlisted issues (4.9 percent), improving recreational facilities (4.7 percent) and improving fire protection and emergency management services (2.8 percent).

When asked "Would you support or oppose a half-cent sales tax if the money was dedicated to reducing traffic congestion and improving road conditions?", 66.8 percent of those polled said they would support the tax, while 31 percent said they would oppose the tax if it were dedicated to traffic improvement.

When asked if they felt parish government currently receives enough tax revenue to solve parish problems, 65 percent said they felt the parish receives enough tax revenue.

On another topic, when asked what direction they felt the parish was heading, 69.5 percent said the felt the parish was "going in the right direction."

A total of 509 people were polled as part of the survey over two nights July 24 and 26, Diez said. The margin of error on the pool was 4.3 percent. Of those polled, 295 identified themselves as registered Democrats, 140 as registered Republicans and 52 as independents.

The racial makeup of the poll shows that 406 subjects were white, 86 were black, one was Hispanic and two were listed as "other" nationalities.

Diez said the numbers were proportionate to the voting base in Ascension Parish of 78 percent white and 19 percent black registered voters.

Martinez called the poll's results "enlightening," but said that he was not surprised by much of the results.

"This verifies what we thought, but some of the numbers are stunning," said Martinez, referring to low interest in issues such as parishwide sewer and recreation improvements.

"The people have spoken," Martinez told the council. "What they told you are the problems.

"We can't wait any longer for the state to bail us out," Martinez said. "We have a problem in Ascension Parish, and it will take a contribution from all of us, not just one source, to fix it."