Fall election scheduled for October 22; Early voting October 8 through 15
For the past six years, Jim Bonsall has served as District 6 police juror for Webster Parish.
"I would like to announce I am running for re-election for the police juror position for District 6 Webster Parish," Bonsall said.
He is married to Cathy Chandler Bonsall.
"We were married for 38 years this month," he said.
They have two children, Penny Rhame and Toby Bonsall and five grandchildren.
Bonsall graduated from Sibley High School in 1972. He attended Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe and Baptist Christian College in Shreveport.
"Since 1982, I have been a licensed building contractor," he said. "Mostly, I have done residential work, but I have done some commercial work such as Fred's Dollar Store and Chevrolet dealership.
"Six years ago when I first ran for the police jury, I thought I knew what they did," he continued. "Now, six years later, I do know. We handle millions of tax dollars and have many responsibilities most people do not know about."
Financially, Bonsall said the parish is in good ghape.
"Our budget is always balanced, and in every fund we carry a balance such that we can absorb some tax fluctuations without services being affected."
Bonsall admits one juror cannot accomplish much by himself, he must have the support of the other jurors.
"Over the past six years, I have been instrumental in many successful endeavors of the police jury," he said.
Bonsall is on several committees and is chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee.
"The parish owns many properties," he said. "About three years ago, we purchased the Regions Bank Building. This was a very important purchase. The courthouse is full and in need of expansion. The property location is perfect in relation to the courthouse and the price was right."
After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the state mandated all parishes enforce the International Building Code.
"They mandated it but did not appropriate any money to do it with," Bonsall said. "Webster Parish entered into a contract with IBTS, a company in the building code enforcement business, because there was not enough money projected to be generated from building permit fees. They were our best option to hold these fees down as much as possible."
It is a work in progress, he pointed out.
"Because I am a building contractor, I understand the problems associated with permitting and inspections," he said. "I think our permitting system is improving with room for more improvements. I continue to work with IBTS to make our system less painful. My goal is to eventually have an in-house department."
Bonsall has worked to develop a permitting system to control increased Haynesville Shale traffic and ensure any damage caused by this traffic is repaired by the company that caused the damage.
"One of my goals when I was first elected was to put a hard surface on all dirt and gravel roads in Webster Parish," he said. "Since then we have blacktopped most of these roads in Road District A (south end of parish). We continue to blacktop some of these roads each year in order of length of road compared to number of houses. Also the length of time a road has been in the system matters.
"We don't have much money to work with each year and we try to spread them out, over all the districts on the south end," he said.
Bonsall enjoys helping with 4-H. The police jury provides significant financial support for the group.
Last year, the police jury teamed up with the City of Minden to replace the Livestock Show Barn at the Minden Fairgrounds, which was in a state of disrepair.
"I received many letters of thanks from 4-H members all over the parish," he said.
About two years ago, a company came into the parish to build a truck stop on Hwy. 79 in Bonsall's district.
"They intended to sell alcohol at this location," he said. "They sued the parish for a permit to sell alcohol. In a local court they won this suit because of a loophole in the law."
Bonsall said he felt this was not right.
"A herd of lawyers from outside of Webster Parish came in and rammed this down our throats," he said. "I felt like if the people of District 6 wanted to have alcohol sales, they are the ones that should make it happen, not someone that does not have any other interests in our parish."
After the police jury lost the case in District Court, there was not much hope for appeal.
"The jury had a meeting to decide what we should do," Bonsall said. "At my insistence, the other jurors voted unanimously to appeal. We won the case at appeals court."
When the truck stop appealed at a higher court, they lost.
"This case set precedence that closed the loophole," Bonsall said. "This would have legalized alcohol sales in most every district in our parish and across the state.
"On many occasions, individuals need assistance with anything from culverts and potholes to permitting problems," he continued. "I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the people of District 6 and Webster Parish."