Carlee Alm-LaBar, a former Lafayette Consolidated Government director, is challenging Mayor-President Joel Robideaux in the Oct. 12 election.

She's the first woman to seek election to the post since it was created with adoption of a home rule charter in 1992 that consolidated the city and parish governments starting in 1996.

In making the announcement Friday, Alm-LaBar said she's motivated by a desire to make all of Lafayette Parish a better place to live as demonstrated by her community volunteer work as well as her professional achievements.

Carlee Alm-LaBar

Carlee Alm-LaBar

"I've always been called to serve this community," she said before a crowd of supporters.

Alm-LaBar, 42, of Lafayette, is registered as 'no party' and describes herself as fiscally conservative, both personally and with government money.

She joined Lafayette Consolidated Government in March 2010 as assistant to then City-Parish President Joey Durel. After more than four years, Alm-LaBar became LCG's chief development officer. When Robideaux took office in January 2016, she became director of development and planning, a post she left in June to work for Southern Lifestyle Development.

Communication, responsiveness, collaboration, openness and leadership, she said, are needed in the mayor-president and are qualities she values and possesses personally and professionally.

"In the last few years, for various reasons, we've seen an erosion of trust in government," Alm-LaBar said. "I'm going to work so hard to be as responsive, diligent, thoughtful and collaborative as I can be."

Infrastructure, traffic and where Lafayette Parish is headed as a community are top issues that must be addressed, she said.

"We need to take an even closer look at the drainage situation," Alm-LaBar said. "We need to start talking more in terms of regional detention," trying to find places where water can be held temporarily that's safe and doesn't cause damage to property. It's not a solution to drain water into the Vermilion River faster, she said, because that just causes the river to back up and flood homes and businesses.

Regarding traffic, Alm-LaBar said Lafayette leaders have to examine the capital budget and fund the most efficient transportation improvements possible, such as intersection improvements.

Alm-LaBar said her work experience at LCG and her community service work with various organizations have prepared her to lead Lafayette and Lafayette Parish.

Her achievements include leading the community-wide adoption of Lafayette's first comprehensive plan called Plan Lafayette; starting the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market at Moncus Park; helping to relaunch CASA of SoLA, which serves children who are placed in foster care; and organizing and leading the Fix the Charter group, a citizen-led grassroots organization that supported the 2018 charter amendment to create separate city and parish councils.

Alm-LaBar was chairperson of Leadership Institute of Acadiana, the parent organization of Leadership Lafayette; served on various community boards including Junior League of Lafayette, where she was chief financial officer and communications vice president; is a long-time board member of Lafayette Youth Soccer Association; and was honored as a Woman Who Means Business in 2015 and a Top 20 Under 40 young professional.

Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille, who is term limited, said he is endorsing Alm-LaBar “absolutely 100 percent.”

“We need a change in leadership,” he said, especially with new city and parish councils, “we need fresh eyes on both sides.”

Former Lafayette Utilities System Director Terry Huval said he also is supporting Alm-LaBar for mayor-president.

"I'm excited about what she brings to the community," he said.

Alm-LaBar grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and moved to Acadiana in 1998 through the Teach for America program, teaching math at Church Point High School until 2000. She worked for Acadiana Youth and the Community Foundation of Acadiana for about 9 years before joining LCG.

A magna cum laude graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, she earned a master's degree in public administration from LSU. 

Alm-LaBar is married to William LaBar, who is a vice president at CGI, a long-time soccer coach at St. Thomas More and a community volunteer. They live in central Lafayette with their dog, Jozy.

Lafayette City-Parish Councilman William Theriot, rumored to be considering a run for mayor-president, confirmed to The Acadiana Advocate Friday he will not be a candidate for that office.

Qualifying is Aug. 6-8 for the Oct. 12 election.

Follow Claire Taylor on Twitter, @ClaireTaylorACA