Jul 27, 2011 00:20 Running for Office: M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. Running for Office: M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. Ascension Parish assessor: Rep. M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. Advocate story July 27, 2011 Comments GONZALES — Two-term state Rep. M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. is a candidate for the job of Ascension Parish assessor, saying he wants the office to be transparent and fair in determining property tax assessments. Smiley, 59, a Republican from St. Amant, said he is a fiscal conservative who as a legislator supported cutting more than 125 state commissions and boards, and he opposed the Stelly tax increase and higher taxes on families. “I believe that as assessor, I can offer the fair, transparent and pro-business approach that Ascension Parish voters deserve,” Smiley said in a statement about his candidacy. He said he will put his business background to work in helping parish leaders promote economic development. Assessor’s offices determine the fair market value of homes, businesses, land and equipment for taxation. Smiley is forgoing a campaign for re-election to House District 88 for a third time before term limits take effect. He was first elected in 2003. Elections for parish assessor and the House seat are among the offices on the primary election ballot Oct. 22. Smiley is challenging Assessor Renee Mire Michel, a Democrat, who has announced she is seeking re-election to a third four-year term. If elected, Smiley said, he would be able to finish his term as a state representative, which ends in January. Smiley would not take office as assessor until January. An Ascension native, Smiley graduated from East Ascension High School in 1969 and has been married to the former Ina Hedberg for 38 years, his statement says. He is a founding member of the Rotary Club of East Ascension, attends Holy Rosary Catholic Church and is a member of other community and national organizations.