Q&A With St. John The Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard

After a 16-year tenure on the St. John Parish Council, Jaclyn Hotard won the parish president election in a landslide victory in October, earning 68% of the vote. She recently completed her second year of law school at the Southern University Law Center and brings significant leadership experience to her role as parish president.

 

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When did you first realize you wanted to become parish president, and what was it that made you take the leap and run?
I have always had aspirations of serving the community as parish president; however, the time just wasn’t right. Oddly enough, I was completing my second year of law school when I decided that I would run. I guess it really holds true that instead of waiting for the right time, you make the right time. I really felt strongly about the future of our Parish, so after consultation with family and friends, I decided to run.

What are your main goals as parish president?
Addressing infrastructure issues, promoting economic development and quality of life issues such as recreational opportunities for our residents.

What are the biggest challenges you face?
Our biggest challenges are infrastructure and making sure that we are taking advantage of all available resources. For example, we sometimes do not have the capital to address all of our needs so we must be aware of available grants and loans with forgiveness components.

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What do you see as St. John Parish’s greatest quality?
Our people. We are resilient after disasters and compassionate towards each other during times of personal tragedy…We resemble a real family: we may have our disagreements, but when one hurts, we all hurt and step up. Our other great quality is our location. We are perfectly situated between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and we have access to interstate, river, rail and air.

How do you plan to work with the Port of South Louisiana to stimulate economic development?
As a member of the St. John Parish Council for the last 16 years, I have current relationships with many of the port members, staff, appointing legislators and the executive director. I plan to continue to work with the Port of South Louisiana in any way possible to grow our region as a whole.

Do you have heroes/inspirations in local, state, or national government who you hope to emulate as parish president?
We have so many great leaders; however, one of my biggest heroes would have to be my father. This guy is patient, kind, and never tires. He supports any wild idea I get in my head, and he offers sound advice anytime I call. I learned best from him that you treat everyone with respect and dignity and you always offer a helping hand to someone in need.

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How did you feel when you realized you would win the election?
It was definitely a surreal moment mixed with tears and excitement surrounded by family and friends. I was so excited and humbled. To have the love and support of a community that I love so much is the most rewarding experience.

What do you like to do when you’re not serving St. John’s Parish?
I like reading non-fiction books, traveling and spending time with my family and friends.

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