JEFFERSON PARISH, La. (WGNO) — Jefferson Parish Council candidates participated in a debate on Thursday, Sept. 21.

The night began with the at-large division on several topics, one of which focused on each candidates’ thoughts regarding the young adult demographic decreasing in the parish and how each candidate plans to convince them to stay.

“Three things: childcare, housing and recreational opportunities. Those are things young people have told us they want and the economy. They want a job too, so I don’t know that I can exclude any of those four,” candidate Jennifer Van Vrancken said.

“Everybody, especially the youth, want more bikeable, walkable communities and more green space. They do not want the old Ranch home that has 8-foot ceilings, three bedrooms, one bath. They want a more modern home, and we need to be able to make it available to them to where they afford it,” candidate Ricky Templet said.

“We’ll brag about our state matching funds for this ready start network to the tune of 300-and-something thousand dollars. They upped that by $25,000 and pat themselves on the back. Meanwhile, there was about $53 million available. We can do a whole lot better. I’d make sure every dollar we had came back to the parish,” candidate Frankie Hyers said.

The debates continued with at-large division B candidates with a hot topic regarding the homeless population in the parish and how to handle it.

“When the proposal for a homeless shelter came up, I asked a very simple question to all of my colleagues: which neighborhood do y’all want to put it in? Does it go in Old Metairie? Does it go in Gretna? Does it go in Kenner? Does it go in River Ridge? Does it go in Elmwood Business Park? And the universal answer is no. The best option we could do, I am sorry, we have to make it inconvenient to be homeless in Jefferson Parish,” candidate Dominick Impastato said.

“It’s not a crime to be homeless, but we do have an issue with Jefferson Parish. Before Covid, we had about 100 homeless is the parish; now we’ve got about 400, so it’s a burgeoning problem. It’s not a problem like you see in New Orleans but we certainly don’t want it to get to that point,” said candidate Scott Walker.

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