• District 5, City Council/Aldermen Candidates 2014

  • You Asked! They Answered!

    Prior to the Political Meet & Greet and Mayoral Debate on October 16, the Chamber solicited questions from the business community for the city council/alderman candidates. Below are the submitted questions and the answers from those who chose to respond.

    District 5 Candidates:
    Marie Riggs, Bruce Siegmund, and Maurice White

  • Question 1

    Specifically how will you promote business and well-planned city development for your district?

    Answer - Bruce Siegmund

    I am not looking to promote my specific ward for any business.  I just want businesses to locate and grow in Ruston.  We can do that by making Ruston more business friendly.  The feedback I’m getting from current and potential business people is that they are harassed and bullied. It’s unfortunate that we are known as a city for not being business friendly.  This explains why our revenues are flat and yet our expenses are going up.  We need to revisit our entire process of planning and zoning and approval.  Much of the feedback I have received is discouragement before the application even gets to planning and zoning. We should be cheering new business rather than discouraging them.

    Answer - Maurice White

    There is currently too much red tape for businesses to go through when they are trying to open in Ruston.  I would like the council to actually go over what it takes to form a business in Ruston and have open discussion about how to make that process easier.  I would also invite feedback from the community and those who have tried to open businesses in the past.  That way we can hear about the concerns from each district and hear about what we should consider changing.  

  • Question 2

    What do you plan to accomplish in your district and what are the means of accomplishing your proposals?

    Answer - Bruce Siegmund

    I am in Ward 5 which is the southwest side of Ruston that is located south of I-20, west of Tech Drive and north of Hwy 80 but all within the city limits.  There are three main things that I am talking to people about as I knock on all the doors in ward 5.

    1.      Let Ruston grow by making Ruston more business friendly.  Get rid of unnecessary regulations and streamline the process of giving individuals and companies the encouragement to do business in Ruston.  We could do so much more if we just worked with those that want to do business here! We don’t even have to “attract” business, they are already attracted to Ruston! We need to welcome them rather than driving them away. New business means more jobs, more revenues, more opportunities and more choices.

    2.    Work collaboratively with La Tech.  Tech is the biggest contributor to our local economy. We need to embrace and encourage their growth to 15,000 students, but we also need to prepare for it.  We already have parking problems, housing issues and traffic congestion, especially as it relates to Tech.  We need a plan to grow with Tech.  We need to work collaboratively with them to have bus service not only with Tech but all around the core areas of town.  This could either be a private venture or a public venture but it can be done if we make the plans. It is way overdo in Ruston and yet it is done all over the country in College towns.  We need to establish more bike paths and sidewalks that lead to La Tech as well. In order to do this, we need more revenues, not more taxes.  That is why we have to become more business friendly.

    3.    Ruston is still divided by race.  There is still a north/south,  black/white divide. It is uncomfortable to talk about, but we need to talk about it.  Thirty years ago I met my wife at La Tech and started dating her.  To my knowledge, no one else was crossing that interracial dating line at that time like we did. Despite the fact that our heads said we should not continue our relationship, our hearts won out.  We married in Ruston and raised six children together right here in Ruston until she (Bren) passed away in 1999. We had lots of support in Ruston through it all. I was fortunate to find someone who would marry me with six small children.  She too was black, and we were supported again by the community here. We have added two additional children that are 2 ½ years old and 11 months old.  We are blessed by God to have such a wonderful family and have deep support within the community. I give God all the credit for what He has done because I often didn’t know what I was doing.

    What I have discovered though in our community  is that not everyone gets the same support.  If you live on the “wrong” side of town, your streets may not be maintained as well, your street may flood or the police may take longer to respond to a call. There are many other concerns as well.  We have a lot of misunderstandings right now and distrust. These things need to be talked about at the city level. Calm, caring, trustworthy individuals need to build relationships and have conversations for change.  I believe that what God has done in my family, He can do in the city of Ruston.  He can take differences and turn them into something beautiful.  In order to do that, we have to build relationships, build trust and have difficult and uncomfortable conversations.  I am willing to do that and find others to work with.

    What if Ruston not only became a model city for its business, college town atmosphere, but also for having the best race relations in the South? Why not Ruston? Thirty years ago I had no idea what I was getting into and now I have 8 children and one of the most beautiful families that anyone could ask for! If God did it for me, He can do it for Ruston. That’s my prayer and desire. That’s why I’m running for city council. 

    Answer - Maurice White

    1) Protecting the Personal Property Rights of Residents:

    I believe we need more input from citizens to make better adjustments to the current property concerns of the residents of District 5.  Transparent leadership that keeps people informed is the only way to effectively meet the needs of those people. 

    2) Revitalizing the District by Improving Infrastructure:

    I plan to aggressively pursue federal grants and state funding to extend sidewalks, improve parks, and address other basic city infrastructure needs.

    3) Restore Community Input into Decision Making

    Within 30 days of the election, I plan to begin hosting a series of “Neighborhood Conversations” for the people of District 5 to have their voices heard.  

  • Question 3

    Would you be willing to consider a recycling program?

    Answer - Bruce Siegmund

    Yes, it's long overdue.

    Answer - Maurice White


  • Question 4

    Would you want to have bike paths added in Ruston?

    Answer - Bruce Siegmund

    Yes, but I don’t want to raise taxes to do it.  They are overdo, as well as a shoulder on Barnett Springs and sidewalks on Maple and the southern part of Tech Drive in my district. 

    Answer - Maurice White

    Yes, however not if such a program would take away from the creation of sidewalks throughout the city.  To play on an old adage, we need to focus on walking before we can ride bikes.  

  • Question 5

    What are your plans on working with LA Tech & Grambling to strengthen the relationships between Ruston and the universities?

    Answer - Bruce Siegmund

    I’m a Tech graduate, I have a son at Tech and I taught at Grambling for 19 years.  I will personally reach out to the leadership at both schools to build win/win relationships with them and put solutions in place. We should be able to do a bus service to both schools working with both Universities.

    Answer - Maurice White

    District 5 is mixed heavily with not only the Tech Campus, but many Tech students and GSU students living in the area.  I believe we need to have an open dialogue with multiple departments at Tech and GSU to ensure we are providing more opportunities for our students to thrive inside District 5.  These open dialogues will ensure we stay informed about the future plans of these universities so we are able to grow while protecting our family environment.  Finding balance is the key.  We must know the future plans of these universities so may be properly prepared for housing and transportation opportunities.  

  • Question 6

    If we are overspending on budget, where and how do we spend it in a more frugal manner?

    Answer - Bruce Siegmund

    I would rather see revenues increase with more business revenues as we expand opportunities.  We have to keep our obligation to our Police and Fire Departments.  We need the best people in both those departments and cannot afford to cut those services.  If we are to grow we have to prepare for that growth, so we need to invest in our infrastructure.  The exact cuts I don’t know at this time, but I’m sure we will have to do some belt tightening based upon our current situation that we are facing as a city now. We have an obligation to spend the taxpayers money frugally. It is not our money, but theirs.  If there are positions or projects that are wasteful, they need to be eliminated.  We are not in good shape if you look at the trends, we will have to make changes. 

    Answer - Maurice White

    Responsible spending is key to any good business, and it just as important for a government.  I do not believe the city council should spend money it doesn’t have just because it is a government entity.  We should focus on the needs of our city, like infrastructure improvements, before we begin aesthetic remodeling.   We should also make sure the individual departments of the city government are being efficient with what is being given to them.  Waste should not be tolerated in our local government. 

  • Question 7

    What are the pressing issues you see facing Ruston now and in the next 5 years?

    Answer - Bruce Siegmund

    Refer back to question 2, but here is the summary.   

    1.     We need to grow as a city.  We will either grow or die.  We will grow by getting rid of unnecessary barriers that are keeping investment and business out of Ruston. This will increase our revenues and give us the ability to provide more services as a city. We need to remember that city servants are servants and not lords. Too many taxpayers are having unfavorable experiences with those that are supposed to be city servants.  This is inexcusable and affects us all as a city.

    2.    We need a serious plan and partnership with La Tech to manage the growth and expansion ahead. 

    We need to build relationships at the city level that enhance our race relations city-wide.

    Answer - Maurice White

    The most pressing issues facing Ruston are infrastructure/safety, bringing in new businesses, and partnering with our local universities as they plan major expansions in the next few years.  The city needs to be ahead of what is coming, not playing catch up once the needs arrive.