First-term Youngsville City Council Member Ken Ritter announced Jan. 6 his candidacy for retiring Mayor Wilson Viator's seat. Ritter joined KPEL Friday morning to discuss Youngsville's growth, education and opportunities for the future.

Ritter said his experiences with leadership — including his council term, his tenure as Copper Meadows Homeowners Association's president and nearly two decades in hotel management — poise him for succeeding Viator:

I just decided that it was in the best interest for someone like me to step up who's familiar with the issues and make sure that Youngsville can continue to be a place that we're proud to call home.

Youngsville's population grew by 5 percent from 2011-2012, and it's been touted as the fastest growing city in Louisiana for several years. Ritter said if he were elected mayor, he would focus on economic development in the bustling community, including easing the tax burden on homeowners:

Economic development is something we need to place a little more emphasis on. Because ultimately, when we focus on economic on development, I hope that we can evaluate our tax streams coming into the community, and perhaps, at one point in the future, look at lowering the tax burden off of the homeowner and perhaps shift it to some businesses.

Education is on the forefront for Ritter, he said, as Green T. Lindon begins needed renovations that will build new, permanent classrooms for the crowded elementary school, and a new charter school will soon break ground in Youngsville:

It's obvious why a lot of people are moving to Youngsville, and that's because of the quality of our schools — the quality of the education that can be received there. So with that said, I would personally feel remiss if we didn't play a larger role to make certain that the school board and the superintendent know we're there.

Ultimately, Youngsville's growth comes at a time when it can look at neighboring communities and learn from their mistakes, Ritter said:

We don't have to look very far for examples of what other communities wish they would have done differently and what are those components. Can we really incorporate it into our growth and planning in Younsgville today to make sure that we're doing it right the first time?

To listen to Ken Ritter's interview, CLICK BELOW: