Conque leaving Lafayette chamber, plans run for council seat _lowres

Bruce Conque

LAFAYETTE —Bruce Conque is leaving his job at the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and plans to run next year for his old spot on the City-Parish Council.Conque, who also serves as chairman of the Lafayette Planning Commission, said Tuesday that he has reached an age — 68 — and a level of financial security where he is ready to shift focus from career to community issues.

Conque said he plans to step down from his job of vice president of community development at the chamber effective Dec. 31.

“Effectively, I’m going into semi-retirement,” Conque said. “I have a lot of freedom and flexibility to do things I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

Jason El Koubi, the chamber’s president and CEO, said he was grateful for Conque’s service with the business organization and wished him success in the next chapter of his career in public service.

“Bruce played a critically important staff leadership role over the last several years and has been a steadfast guide and sounding board as the Chamber embarked on a significant transformation earlier this year,” El Koubi wrote in an email.

Conque said chief among his plans for the future is a run for the District 6 spot on the City-Parish Council.

Conque was in the first year of his second four-year term on the council when he left in 2008 after accepting a full-time position at the chamber.

Council elections are set for fall 2015.

Current District 6 councilman Andy Naquin said he plans to run for re-election but wished Conque well.

“That’s his prerogative,” Naquin said.

Conque said he wants to get back on the council in part to help implement Lafayette’s comprehensive plan, a long-term strategy for growth and development the council endorsed earlier this year.

Conque also said he would push for tweaking the structure of city-parish government to give the city of Lafayette more autonomy.

The once-separate governments of Lafayette Parish and the city of Lafayette merged in 1996.

That marriage has been strained in recent years, and there have been calls to limit how much control council members living outside the city have over city affairs, such as the budgets of the Police Department, Fire Department and city-owned utility system.

“Lafayette deserves its own council and its own mayor,” Conque said.

Conque served on a 2011 commission that put deconsolidation on the ballot, asking voters if they wanted to undo the 1996 merger and return to separate governments for the city and the parish.

Voters soundly rejected the proposal, with 63 percent opposing deconsolidation.

Since then, there has been talk of carving out an autonomous city council within the larger nine-member City-Parish Council, leaving consolidation intact but limiting the power of council members with large constituencies beyond the city limits.