Incumbent Joel Boé targeted by businessman with ax to grind
By REBEKAH ALLEN
Advocate staff writer
October 07, 2012
In southeast East Baton Rouge Parish, Metro Councilman Joel Boé has drawn opposition in his bid for re-election from businessman Ted Rush, a Republican with a personal beef against the incumbent who said he thinks Boé has ignored the needs of District 9.
Rush, 56, said he’s responding to the calls of dissatisfied constituents who don’t believe that Boé, 36, is representing their best interests. He also said an ordinance change that Boé sponsored affected him personally and contributed to his decision to run.
Rush and his wife, Janet Evans, have been digging a large pond in Evans’ backyard for more than two years.
Evans said she worked with the city-parish from the beginning to let officials know she was going to dig the massive pond, even though there was no ordinance on the books requiring the city-parish to be notified or to have any participation or role in the process.
Boé, also a Republican, said his office received complaints about noise, dust, trucks and mud associated with the project a year and a half after Evans and Rush started digging the pond. Boé also said Evans and Rush were illegally selling dirt from their home without a business permit.
The couple admit they were selling dirt but dismiss the notion they were breaking any laws.
“I’m not running a business, I’m digging a pond,” Evans said. “That’s pretty evident.”
Boé got the Metro Council to pass a resolution to regulate pond construction, requiring permits and setting time limits. He said it makes sense that if the city-parish requires homeowners to obtain permits to build pools, then the same requirement should be true for ponds.
After Rush and Evans said they would just pay the $500 fine and remain in violation for not finishing in time, Boé went back to the council and got the penalty changed to $500 per day.
Rush and Evans have been sued by the city-parish, and are in contempt of court for allegedly working on the pond after they were instructed by a judge to stop.
Rush said Boé never approached him and his wife about the problem until after he won passage of the ordinance. He described it as just one example of Boé working against the people of his district.
He also said the councilman is neglectful of issues like potholes, grass cutting and sewer problems.
Rush said he will also focus on issues such as reducing crime and trying to attract businesses to the many empty commercial buildings in the area.
He suggested offering businesses a six-month tax break if they move into the unused commercial spaces.
“We’re not getting tax revenue now on the buildings, so let them get rented and don’t charge any taxes for six months,” Rush said.
He also said he’d be more proactive about approaching local businesses to encourage them to relocate in his district.
Rush criticized Boé for being inaccessible and promised to make Boé’s cellphone number available to all constituents.
Boé said his office is very responsive to constituent complaints and works closely with both the city-parish’s Department of Public Works and the state Department of Transportation and Development to try to combat overgrown grass issues and potholes.
Boé, who is seeking a second term on the council, said he prides himself on “being the voice of reason” on the council for the past four years and making his decisions based on the merits of each individual item, rather than the politics surrounding the issues.
Foy Crary, a District 9 resident, said she supports Rush and is going to do whatever possible to get Boé out of office.
She said some residents are angry with Boé for supporting the downtown Library and for approving a 90-lot planned unit development north of Hoo Shoo Too Road.
Boé noted that he initially voted against the appropriation for the downtown Library rebuild in 2010 but the council ultimately supported it.
When it was brought up for reconsideration 10 months later, Boé said, it was unfair to the architects and library officials who had been working in “good faith” to move the project forward based on the earlier vote.
“If we make a decision, we make a decision,” Boé said. “It sends a wrong message to anyone coming before the council if you approve it today and then renege on it later.”
Responding to his vote on the Hoo Shoo Too development, Boé noted that the developer adjusted his original plan down to 90 homes from 270 homes in his original concept.
“It was met with mixed reviews, probably as close to 50-50 as you can imagine, but I thought it was a reasonable compromise by the developer,” Boé said.
Don Browning, the president of the Rose Hill Civic Association, said Boé has done a “wonderful job.”
He said residents complained to him that drivers would run a stop sign at Elliot Road and Tiger Bend in Shenandoah, and it resulted in a car driving into the lake.
He said Boé led the charge to get a flashing red light, which has solved the problem.
“Whenever the subdivision needs help, he’s right there and he takes care of it,” Browning said.
Boé and Rush will face off in the Nov. 6 primary.