Empower PAC, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, announced Tuesday its endorsement of Justin Centanni, a candidate for the Lafayette Parish School Board in District 6.

It marks the first endorsement announcement by the chamber’s PAC for this year’s School Board election. The announcement comes the same day that S chool Board candidate forums, organized by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council, begin. The chamber is a member of the council.

Centanni, 37, an assistant vice president database analyst for IberiaBank, faces University of Louisiana at Lafayette geography instructor Kathleen Schott Espinoza in the election. The incumbent Greg Awbrey opted not to seek re-election.

“The status quo of the Lafayette Parish School System is failing to meet the needs of our children and the aspirations of our community,” Frank Neuner, Empower PAC chairman, said in a news release.

“In Justin Centanni we see a capable leader dedicated to putting students first,” he added.

Neuner described Centanni as someone who is results oriented and who is willing to put politics aside to work collaboratively with other board members, the administration, teachers and parents.

Centanni said he was honored by the chamber’s endorsement.

“This organization is made up of business leaders like me who are tired of our board’s dysfunction and the negative light it shines on our great city,” he said in a news release. “They want to see integrity, civility, professionalism and most of all, concern for our children and the teachers who educate them returned to the board, and they’ve agreed that I’m the candidate who will make that happen.”

Neuner said more school board district candidate endorsements would be released one district at a time.

“Our board feels very strongly that our role is not to produce a slate of candidates Empower PAC supports,” Neuner said in an email response. “Instead we want to highlight individuals in specific districts with the courage and conviction to put students first and the leadership to work collaboratively with others.”