New tax assessor sworn in

Lisa Yates
Ascension Parish Court Judge Marilyn Lambert administers the oath of office to M. J. “Mert” Smiley as Ascension Parish’s next tax assessor.

Former State Representative M. J. “Mert” Smiley, Jr. of St. Amant was sworn in on Jan. 2 as Ascension Parish’s next tax assessor.

Surrounded by community leaders, family and friends, Smiley was given the oath of office from Ascension Parish Court Judge Marilyn Lambert. He was joined by his wife, Ina, presenting her flowers as the crowd said “aww.”

“I just want to publicly acknowledge my love for this woman,” he said. “She has been with me through thick and thin, through these hard campaigns and yet she’s hung in there.”

The new tax assessor narrowly defeated two-term Ascension Parish Assessor Renee Mire Michel in last November’s general election. His margin of victory was less than 1 percentage point, 50.31 percent to 49.69 percent.

Smiley said he will always respect the legacy of the assessors that came before him.

“I would really like to thank Renee Michel for a seamless transition, one that her dad would really be proud of,” he said.

Judge Ralph Tureau, the Division A Judge of the 23rd Judicial District in La., administered the oath of office to the assessor’s staff.

Smiley said he would have an open door policy in his administration.

“My goal is to make your Assessor’s Office the most modern, efficient and friendly.”