At the suggestion of our Governmental Affairs Committee, we recently conducted a survey of Chamber members regarding current governmental and political affairs and issues. We utilized SurveyMonkey for this effort, and the survey instrument presented a list of nine questions as well as an option for respondents to offer comments on a completely anonymous basis. This was not intended to be a scientific survey; however, surveys are a tool to gauge the feelings of our Chamber members on legislative bills and local issues, enabling our leadership to have member input before deciding to recommend support or opposition of any issues, and potentially speak out publicly on behalf of our 1,000 member businesses and their 30,000 employees.
Voter turnout in the recent tax renewal election was a dismal 8.7%. As of the time of this writing, of the 96 respondents to the survey, 47% indicate that the reasons they did not vote were because they were not aware of the election (23%), they did not have enough information to make an informed vote (12%) or they felt there are too many elections (12%). Other responses given include the expected “too busy”, etc. In the recent Louisiana presidential primary, where voter turnout was 28%, 82% of our respondents voted; only 13% did not. In the City of Mandeville, the mayor & council elections were also on that ballot.
Fifty-eight percent consider themselves to be a member of the informed but so-called “silent majority,” 19% do not, and 24% don’t know.
When asked about how St. Tammany residents are taxed, 56% responded “too much”, 38% “just right” and 6% “too little.” However, most (55%) feel that they are getting a good value for their tax dollars in terms of services that are provided in our area — 34% feel they are not getting a good value and 12% don’t know.
Concerning proposed legislation that could increase Louisiana’s mandatory minimum wage to $8.50 per hour, 67% do not feel that it would impact their business, while 26% feel that it would and 6% don’t know.
When asked whether they support or oppose several current local issues, our members replied: the development of Port Marigny on the Mandeville lakefront (71% support, 13% oppose and 17% don’t know); the District Attorney serving as counsel to the Parish Administration and Parish Council (40% support, 35% oppose and 25% don’t know); the Parish Counsel appealing to the LA Supreme Court the decision to allow Helis Oil to drill a well in St. Tammany (38% support, 43% oppose and 19% don’t know); the renewal of the Parish Jail tax (56% support, 32% oppose and 12% don’t know); and the renewal of the Parish Justice Center tax (56% support, 27% oppose and 17% don’t know). These results tell us that more information needs to be disseminated to area voters, leading to a question regarding what their major sources of news and current events — most cited television (60%), followed by social media (42%), newspapers (33-40%), radio (35%) and other at 13%.
Forty-six percent of our respondents live in Mandeville, 30% in Covington and 24% from surrounding areas.
The survey was purposely brief in an effort to garner more responses from our busy members, all of who are an important part of our collective voice of business. Our Governmental Affairs Committee will be carefully reviewing the results to determine if we as a Chamber will take an official stand on these or any other issues, and it is likely we will continue to seek member input during these challenging times. Stay tuned for final results.