As the owner or investor in six real estate franchises, Nancy Marcotte says she employs about 1,000 people.
That experience in creating jobs is what she says sets her apart from the other candidates for mayor-president of Lafayette Parish.
Marcotte, 59, of Lafayette, is one of three Republicans, one Democrat and one no-party candidate on the Oct. 12 ballot to replace Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, a Republican elected four years ago who is not seeking reelection.
Marcotte moved to Lafayette when her father retired from the Air Force. She was in sixth grade. She left again for four years when Chevron transferred her husband to the New Orleans area. Living in Mandeville, she earned her real estate license. When they moved back to Lafayette, Marcotte said she started at Keller Williams in Lafayette. Today, she is part owner in six offices from Lake Charles to Orange Beach, Alabama.
In May, Marcotte announced her candidacy for mayor-president.
"Lafayette has been so good to me and I love Lafayette," she said recently. "I feel like I needed to step up to the plate because we didn't have the leadership that I felt was needed."
The issue she would most like to address as mayor-president is jobs. Like some of the other candidates, Marcotte believes the Unified Development Code, a large document that includes safety and building codes and development regulations for the city of Lafayette and unincorporated parts of the parish, is one of the main reason businesses don't move to Lafayette.
She said the UDC, which she hasn't fully reviewed, "keeps jobs away by making it so cumbersome for anybody that wants to expand or open a new business in Lafayette that they just move on down the road" to Youngsville, Broussard, New Iberia, even out of state.
Even though the UDC does not apply to other municipalities in the parish, Marcotte said she would like to see all cities in the parish follow the same code.
Marcotte said she will do everything within the law to help businesses open in Lafayette instead of making them fight codes and regulations.
"We need high-paying middle-class jobs to come back to Lafayette," she said. "That's the jobs we've been losing most of."
Today's primaries in the Acadiana area and across Louisiana are chock-full of major issues and races.
Something needs to happen along the Evangeline Thruway and future Interstate 49 Connector route, Marcotte said. The state Department of Transportation and Development has purchased properties along the route to clear the way for the interstate, which has not been funded. That, she said, is part of the reason no one is developing in that area, because people are uncertain what's going to happen.
A federal Record of Decision was issued years ago to build the 5-mile section of I-49, called the Lafayette Connector, through Lafayette. The process was restarted a few years ago after residents objected to parts of the proposal, including exit ramps into downtown Lafayette. A new Record of Decision has not been granted for the project to proceed.
The area, Marcotte said, also isn't attractive. It needs to be cleaned up and made welcoming, and additional police patrols are needed. She also wants to give Lafayette Police officers a raise. Even though she hasn't looked at the 2019-20 budget the new mayor-president will be working with, Marcotte said she could save money through attrition and the 2018-19 budget reveals places she can cut to free money for raises. The mayor-president, she said, has 12 assistants, up two from the previous city-parish president.
"I don't think I would need nearly that many," Marcotte said.
Marcotte did not support the December 2018 Home Rule Charter amendment that replaces the City-Parish Council with a Lafayette City Council and a Lafayette Parish Council. The mayor-president's position, she said, should have been split. She would support such a move in the future and would support increasing the number of council members on both councils if the money is available.
She also believes before the council was split there should have been a decision on how to divide all the LCG money. About 20 percent of LCG funds overlap into the city and the parish, she said.
Marcotte would like the mayor-president to meet with both councils at the same time at least once a month to resolve how to spend those overlapping funds. Asked for examples, Marcotte said she's talking about fire and police protection, the jail and courthouse operations, which the parish government is responsible for financially "but the city (of Lafayette) uses some of that." Reminded that all six cities in the parish use the jail and courthouse, she replied, "I'm not going to be one that says I have all the answers. I know how to hire people that will come together and solve these issues."
The biggest issue on residents' minds, she said, is drainage, since storms in August 2016 flooded about 4,000 homes in the parish. Marcotte believes the drainage problems can be solved "rather quickly." Her plan includes getting the Corps of Engineers to dredge the Vermilion River, a move the present City-Parish Council has started and budgeted $5 million toward. It's the responsibility of the federal government to dredge the river, not LCG's, she said. Lafayette's only responsible for finding a place to put the dirt that's dredged from the river, she said.
Marcotte said she also wants to develop a plan involving the entire watershed to manipulate pumps and diversions when major rain events are expected. LCG also needs to clean coulees and drainage ditches.
Four of the five candidates for Lafayette mayor-president submitted campaign finance reports as of Thursday in the Oct. 12 election.
The new mayor-president who takes office in January will probably make a decision on what to do with the six-story Buchanan Street parking garage downtown, which was shut down a year ago due to safety concerns. Four proposals were submitted to Robideaux. Three of them call for redeveloping the garage and surrounding properties for retail space, residences and parking. One proposes rebuilding the parking garage only for parking.
Marcotte supports a public-private partnership with shops and restaurants on the bottom floor of the development as long as it includes at least 300 parking spaces the condemned garage offered and enough extra parking space for those using the restaurants and stores. She does not want the development to include residences because of sewerage and drainage problems downtown.
"We need to fix the parking first so that we can bring back jobs," she said.
Lafayette can grow its tax base, not by increasing taxes, Marcotte said, but by increasing businesses and attracting residents who will contribute to the tax base which can be used for infrastructure improvements like drainage and sewerage.
A hot issue with the City-Parish Council over the past year has been the parish's public library system. Voters in 2018 rejected a tax renewal for the libraries, one of three taxes the library system collects. On the Oct. 12 ballot is a referendum to take $10 million from the library's surplus, with $8 million going to drainage and roads and $2 million to recreation and parks. The City-Parish Council in June also approved money in the 2019-20 budget to build a new library in northeast Lafayette.
Because of the drainage and infrastructure problems, Marcotte said she would probably revoke that allocation.
"I think that while our neighbors are flooding, our friends and family are flooding, we don't need another library," she said. "I agree libraries do great things and they handled their money well. But I don't think now is the time to build another library."
A campaign finance report shows, as of Sept. 2, Marcotte received $106,580 for her campaign, which included a $65,000 personal loan from herself to the campaign.
- Age: 59
- Family: husband, Tom Marcotte, two children
- Home: Lafayette
- Job: Real estate broker
- Party: Republican