Fifteen candidates are running for the new Lafayette City Council, the first dedicated council for the city since the city and parish consolidated in 1996.

The Advocate conducted question-answer style interviews with all 15 candidates, covering such topics as their occupations and reasons for running; the biggest issues in their districts and across the city. The responses have been edited for clarity and length. 

DISTRICT 1

John Ford, Democrat

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John Ford

Occupation: Self-employed

Reason for running: It’s time for the city of Lafayette to get its fair share, especially under-served areas of north Lafayette that have been disinvested in for the past 50 years. Hoping to unite the council around a new vision and spirit of intentionality when they look at the needs of north Lafayette.

Biggest issue district: Blight and crime.

Biggest issue city: I think our downtown area also has been devalued. We need a plan also to rebuild downtown and make it strong and vibrant to make the city and entire parish strong.

How should the city address its drainage problems: We should be very open minded and concerned about our neighboring cities in the parish. If we equitably distribute resources throughout the parish we can address drainage holistically.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? I think the community at large needs to look at its assets and try to manage current assets, redevelop current assets in the urban core before looking at new construction or getting outside corporations to come in and develop jobs. Look at it from a local perspective, then bring in other companies.

Will you accept a pay raise? No

Would you raise taxes for any reason? No

Do you support rolling millages forward? All need to be revisited. Have they served their purpose? Should we discontinue them and put resources elsewhere?

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? I think we need public/private partnerships.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? I don’t think a new animal shelter should supercede a north Lafayette library. If we can do both, fine.

Do you support a new library in northeast Lafayette? Yes

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? Never. It's too valuable an asset, provides cash flow for the community to put in the hands of anyone else other than citizens.

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No. We should leave management to our discretion.

Should the city council consider selling its fiber operations? Couldn’t answer until I look at the finances.

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? I believe that we should pay our fair share of resources and allow each city get their fair share based on their investment.

Can and should government be run like a business? Whenever you buy goods and services and contracting, you're operating from a business operation.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? If I had the opportunity to vote I would have voted yes.

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Yes

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? No

Pat Lewis, Democrat

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Pat Lewis

Occupation: Retired from Lafayette Parish school system

Reason for running: To be reelected, to serve the community.

Biggest issue your district: Crime. Lots of shootings going on.

Biggest issue entire city: Drainage

How should the city address its drainage problems: Talking about dredging the Vermilion River. We need to take a hard look at where the problems are. Water needs to flow to the Vermilion and Gulf. In my district, there are problems with ditches and drainage not dredged properly. We need to flush the drains. Some these drains haven’t been cleaned in over 20 years.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? We should encourage incentives to get private business to invest in the community. We can make our communities more inviting. Clean up blighted property. Land owners are not doing anything with buildings.  If we can get it looking inviting, presentable and clean like they're doing on the other end of town, business will invest.

Will you accept a pay raise? No

Would you raise taxes for any reason? If it would be for drainage and a limited time like what the airport did, a sunset tax. A luxury tax not on necessities like food and drugs. Maybe a quarter of a percent tax.

Do you support rolling millages forward? Depends what it’s for. For necessities like library, police and fire departments.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? Most definitely

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Yes

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? Yes

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? No

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? Everyone in Lafayette is in Lafayette parish. I have to support something because it's in Lafayette Parish. It was not full deconsolidation because we're still in Lafayette Parish. I'm paying parish taxes for things like the library and courthouse.

Can and should government be run like a business? It's hard to run like a business, because whenever the council wants something we have to get approval. If we want buy a truck, we need approval. Need bids. Businesses don’t have to. Taxpayer money can’t be used freely. It's impossible to run government like a business. Business is to make profit. Government is there to help the city, people.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? No. I supported bringing it to a vote of the people. I did not support it.

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Definitely. It’ll be a challenge for the mayor to be mayor-president. In this case the parish council has five and the city council has five. If there's a conflict, who does he or she show more favoritism to, the parish or the city? Who will they be more loyal to?

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Definitely. We have roughly 130,000 in population with 1/3 billion dollar budget and I don’t like the idea that 3 of 5 make the decision with the administration on what and how funding is going to be. After the Census, I hope there's better distribution of council members. Everyone knows the district I represent has more like three districts in 1, west of Lafayette and almost northeast of Lafafayette as well, close to Scott and Carencro, plus in the middle. In same situation like the mayor-president. Who gets priority? A challenge. But I feel I am the person with the experience who can handle it. I have four opponents and not one is from (City-Parish Council) District 3 that I won in. It was not fairly done. They used 2010 population.

Mark Pope, Republican

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Mark Pope

Occupation: Radio professional

Reason for running: We’ve got to change this government; it is not responsive. It is ruling the people, not serving the people. Taxes, drag queens, the utility system are all in jeopardy because of a dysfunctional council. 

Biggest issue your district: Lack of economic opportunity. We are the oldest district. I, as a representative and ambassador, will work extremely hard to get the Opportunity Zone initiative working for city District 1. 

Biggest issue entire city: A lack of prioritized funding. We need to look at all property millages, how sales tax is applied, how LUS in lieu of taxes is applied. Focus on basic services, drainage, road and structurally deficient bridge and police and fire safety.

How should the city address its drainage problems: From being a public works employee for 27 years and sitting in public works meetings for 11 years as environmental manager, I know it is complicated. Lafayette as a general rule, is flat, barely above sea level. There is no natural gradient for the flow of water. It has to be created. We’ve got to start with basics. Clean channels, hydrological study to find out if the Vermilion River needs dredging. Do what the study tells us and start post haste.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? Get out of the way and come up with common-sense building and land use regulations. The Unified Development Code is overly complicated. It’s cumbersome and it interferes with development. Apply the Opportunity Zone initiative in city District 1, which is economically distressed. It will take an ambassador to reach out to potential investors. I will be that ambassador.

Will you accept a pay raise? No

Would you raise taxes for any reason? A qualified yes. If need be, as a last resort.

Do you support rolling millages forward? With a cost-benefit analysis and extreme financial study, forensic audits.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? I do. Have not seen specific plans.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Yes

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? No

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? Absolutely not

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? Yes, if anybody will buy it.

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? No. That's a complex legal question. It all starts with right sizing the millages. Look at every one.

Can and should government be run like a business? As much as possible.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? No. it was foisted on us. The people were duped. 

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Yes

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Yes with two at-large members that have an overall city interest.

Sarah Gauthier Roy, Democrat

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Sarah Gauthier Roy

Occupation: Teacher

Reason for running: I felt like representation in my district saw a lot of inaction and lack of vision.

Biggest issue your district: Poverty

Biggest issue entire city: Blight and drainage

How should the city address its drainage problems: I think we need a strategic plan that recognizes the major drainage issues that come into play with the Vermilion River but doesn't discount minor issues like ditch maintenance, coulee maintenance and new development.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? Work with public school systems and post secondary school systems for workforce development. Create strong, accountable relationship with our Lafayette Economic Development Authority.

Will you accept a pay raise? No. I will accept the pay deemed acceptable within the budget.

Would you raise taxes for any reason? Yes if our city’s going bankrupt and not mtg needs of citizens. Goes to voters after that

Do you support rolling millages forward? Yes, at times when it's necessary, when we need to keep up with things like inflation and cost of living. We need to make sure we're taking care of the funding for our necessary programs.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? Yes

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Yes

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? Yes

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No. We shouldn't liquidate our assets, especially our largest source of income.

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No. I think LUS is the best managed system we have in city government.

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? No. I think it's a good investment for the city and a means for us to pay the bills in Lafayette.

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? No. I think the taxpayers and citizens of Lafayette Parish need to have a clear understanding of the cost to do business, i.e., we pay taxes for services.

Can and should government be run like a business? No, because it’s not, albeit lots of businesses do use their profits for outreach and human services. I believe government should play the role of creating a good quality life for all residents and sometimes it's not profitable to do so.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? Yes, I advocated for the split as I was a city resident being represented by what was considered to be a parish councilman and felt as though my voice and representation were not present on the LPUA and city issues.

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Yes, in time. I think as we work toward splitting our councils we will realize necessary changes and can address the transition more proactively.

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Not at this time. I think we need to see and address how the split is going to work and if we need to allocate funding for more representation in the city.

Matthew Sias, Democrat

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Matthew Sias Jr.

Occupation: Insurance broker

Reason for running: Economic struggles in District 1 are at an all-time high. Crime, blight, infrastructure. I think I’m the person to bring economic prosperity to District 1.

Biggest issue your district: Economic development.

Biggest issue in city: We have not been intentional in anything that we’ve done. We need development in our core. For the city of Lafayette to be prosperous, the core of Lafayette needs to be developed and anything around it will flourish.

How should the city address its drainage problems: District 1 has some drainage issues. Before we even move forward, I think we have to dredge the Vermilion River. We've done a poor job maintaining drainage. Complete that. 

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? Offer tax incentives with Tax Increment Financing district program — they did a great job on Louisiana Avenue — and the PILOT program. The gateway to our city is Interstate 10-Interstate 49. We need to do a better job with beautification and blight, build service roads, that will incentivize development. Partner with the business community.

Will you accept a pay raise? No

Would you raise taxes for any reason? No. I don’t think the city of Lafayette has a financial issue. The city has an allocation issue. 

Do you support rolling millages forward? The library millage was excessive and now we have a new northeast library. It’s per millage, per situation. In the library's case, I would have been on board with rolling forward one millage.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? Of course. Outside of I-10-I-49, that exit off I-10 into the city of Lafayette ... University Avenue runs through the whole city. I think that needs to be a priority.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? At the cost of our drainage and University Avenue, no.

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? Yes

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No. LUS is the heart and soul of the city. I think we should capitalize on LUS. It's extremely important we maintain LUS, we do not lease our LUS or get someone to manage or sell it.

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? No

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? No. Part of the reasoning for a split, every other city in the parish has its own council that governs its own budget. If we do it others would have to.

Can and should government be run like a business? In some forms of budgeting, yes. Fiscally responsible and transparent.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? Yes. 

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Yes

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? No. It's important minority representation stays intact. If it went to seven, it would be important to have minority representation move to three districts.

DISTRICT 2

Bruce Conque, No party

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Bruce Conque

Occupation: Retired

Reason for running: I campaigned for a Lafayette City Council for over a decade and now that we’ve realized that goal, I would like to provide the leadership necessary to do a seamless transition.

Biggest issue your district: Drainage. I think what people are most conscious of is the poor condition of our roads.

Biggest issue entire city: Drainage, roads, then infrastructure, especially as it applies to sewerage. Some lines in the city are over 100 years old.

How should the city address its drainage problems: Maintenance is critical. We have to maintain a high level of flushing our drains, making certain we enforce what could be considered minor things like yard debris flushed into sewers, construction projects. They're supposed to prevent mud/dirt from leaving property. Little things make a difference. In the city, we have mostly concrete-lined coulees. It's a challenge to take water moving swiftly inside the city, when it leaves the city and enters the parish, it backs up. My neighborhood goes to Bayou Ille de Cannes. Water recedes more quickly now that they cleaned the bayou.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? We need to make a better first impression for someone entering the city from I-10 or one of our other gateways. How we portray ourselves. Our face that appears on the electronic media, web page. We're going to have a brand-new airport, a welcoming presence. If traveling by car, it’s a poor first impression.

Will you accept a pay raise? No. The salary is identified in the amended charter. It's not a pay raise.

Would you raise taxes for any reason? Yes. You can’t rule out unknowns. What if we had an opportunity to repeat the airport terminal proposition for some other proposal? That was a new tax, albeit limited. The point being is that a broadly applied “no” to new taxes constrains the ability to pursue innovative revenue initiatives.

Do you support rolling millages forward? Where there is a need, yes, such as exists in the library and airport. Those are parish. The city has about 15-17 mills.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? Yes

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Yes. It's funded by parish property tax the combined mosquito, public health and animal shelter tax.

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? Yes. I voted for it

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No. The city council can’t do it. It has to go to voters if it comes up.

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No.

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? No.

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? No. By law if it benefits the city of Lafayette, monies can be used outside the city.

Can and should government be run like a business? Can be run in a business-like fashion but not like a business. Good organization and management structure. In the city of Lafayette, we have 125,000 stockholders we have to report to.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? Yes. I think the challenge that lies ahead is a paradigm shift is in play. We cannot do government as it's been done the past 24 years because we will have two autonomous councils in play. That will impact how we move forward with the budget. Despite recent reports of concerns, I believe that the structure will be in place to provide the city of Lafayette with considerable leverage in ensuring that the parish and city pay their fair share in Lafayette Consolidated Government.

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Yes

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Yes, at the appropriate time.

Andy Naquin, Republican

Did not respond.

DISTRICT 3

Liz Hebert, Republican

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Liz Hebert

Occupation: Director of business development for Surgery Partners

Reason for running: Because of the positive impact I've been able to make in my district the last four years. I enjoy communicating with my constituents in solving problems and issues within my district.

Biggest issue your district: Drainage

Biggest issue entire city: Drainage. Before 2015, no one talked about drainage. In light of August 2016, we're all fearful, whether we flooded once or 2-3 times since. City and parish councils need to work together.

How should the city address its drainage problems: In my district, there have been major improvements cleaning culverts and coulees. We need a program to maintain it so we don’t fall into same issue as before. Drainage maintenance needs to be a priority. We can’t just do this once.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? We should be supportive in efforts of LCVC (Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission), LEDA (Lafayette Economic Development Authority), LCG (Lafayette Consolidated Government), the International Center and One Acadiana, all these organizations that work to bring economic development to Lafayette. The council's role is to be supportive, show up when they have visitors, be a positive face and force for the city of Lafayette, showing love and pride.

Will you accept a pay raise? No. I have not accepted a pay raise and don’t plan to in the future.

Would you raise taxes for any reason? It all depends on the situation. It's got to be for one purpose and a temporary tax for a project we see is needed in our community. I never want to mislead and say I would never ever vote for taxes. The airport tax, for example, was a great use, a temporary tax for a specific purpose.

Do you support rolling millages forward? Depends on the millage. In the last four years, each time there was a tax to be rolled forward, I meet with the director to ask: Why do you need it, your direction, what's coming up? The airport tax was rolled forward recently. We're about to open a new airport terminal double the size of the one we have now. They’re going to need extra money for operations and maintenance. We rolled it back last time. Next time it’s time to roll forward, I will ask if they still need as much money to maintain.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? Yes. I think we need to have beautiful corridors coming into every area of lafayette. It doesn’t need to stop there. Ambassador corridor, for example, is a state road. We’d have partner with the state. They all may be state. I worked with state officials to get some beautification. Get grass cut, follow ordinances we have now for reporting tall grass, litter.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Yes. With all the efforts we’ve made in the city to go no-kill the last four years, this not just issue of I love cats and dogs or I hate them. It's a public health issue. I don’t want to see a stray cat or dog issue in our community. I hear all too often people want a place to bring an animal they found on the side of the road or grandma's pet we don’t want it put down.

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? No. I've spoken to people within library board and administration of ibrary, and we're at a time in Lafayette where people are looking to library to watch its cost. Millages are not being passed. I voted yes for it because it is their dedicated money to do as they pease. My advice was not do it.

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No. We have such an incredible jewel in LUS and LUS fiber. It think we should always be looking for ways to improve and increase oversight.

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No. Same reason as above.

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? No. This ties in with the above. I think it was a good idea to split internal management so the same director is not over both.

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? The first few years moving forward, we need to work together so it doesn't effect services. We should get to the point where the parish only pays for the parish and the city only pays for the city.

Can and should government be run like a business? In an ideal world, yes. We don’t operate like a business because we are not. We have requirements. Private businesses don’t have processes and regulations government is under. We should also be looking at it like a business mindset.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? Yes.

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? I would support any changes. The charter always was meant to be amended, to be a working document. It has not been. I am open to any changes to be discussed and brought to voters. We can’t go 20 years without changes. In four years, let’s see how it works then look at other details of charter we want change and bring to voters.

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Yes. Ties in with my last answer. Let’s go with this four years and see what works, what needs to be changed and what doesn’t need to be changed.

James Noriega, Republican

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Dr. James Noriega

Occupation: Physician/podiatrist

Reason for running: To better Lafayette

Biggest issue your district: Flooding

Biggest issue entire city: Flooding and infrastructure

How should the city address its drainage problems: I believe we have multiple studies out. Review the studies. I'm in favor of dredging the Vermilion River to 9 feet and cleaning out coulees.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? By simply fixing flooding/drainage issues, fixing infrastructure that in itself will hopefully bring some jobs back into the city.

Will you accept a pay raise? No

Would you raise taxes for any reason? No

Do you support rolling millages forward? On most of them, no. There may be a few I would look at closely. I think have enough money now and my constituents definitely do not want any new taxes.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? I believe with private funding, yes. I don’t think we need to invest a lot of taxpayer money into beautification of one single area of the city.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Haven’t looked into it.

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? Not right now, not until drainage and flooding are solved.

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? No

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? On a case by case basis. I’d like to keep most city money in the city. Have not seen finalized budget and how much parish going to get. Looks like not a lot. There may be other items to move around in the budget.

Can and should government be run like a business? Yes. We all have a budget to live by. I have a family budget. I have a business budget. Live by that budget. Give priority to certain items that need it.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? No

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Yes

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Yes. City and parish.

DISTRICT 4

Nanette Cook, Republican

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Nanette Cook

Occupation: Teacher

Reason for running: To continue to serve the community and hopefully make a change.

Biggest issue your district: Drainage. I feel like a broken record. I deal with it all the time.

Biggest issue entire city: Drainage is definitely part of the problem. I really think it's mostly economy, trying to bring in new businesses so we can pay for roads, infrastructure.

How should the city address its drainage problems: We've taken the first steps to clean channels, identify which were most important to clean first. People want ditches dug out. Culverts on peoples' property are silted over. To me, the big picture is the Vermilion River. Everything is draining to the Vermilion. Spot dredge to bring it to the 9 feet deep it was designed for by Corps. Don’t know if it will fix everything, but if you think of the river as a giant retention pond, it can hold the water.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? I feel like LEDA (Lafayette Economic Development Authority) has been a big player in our community doing studies, investigations and inquiries about the kind of businesses that might be interested in moving to Lafayette. We have to have better school systems, better roads, better quality of life like parks and rec. And drainage. All those other things are still very important in our community.

Will you accept a pay raise? No. Never have, never will. Don’t feel like I’m entitled to one.

Would you raise taxes for any reason? Qualified no, because my intention would be not to raise anybody's taxes. But if there's a situation like the airport tax, we can roll millages forward or back and can vote to put a tax on the ballots for voters to decide.

Do you support rolling millages forward? Qualified yes. Again, only when needed. Rolled forward the airport millage because they're building a terminal twice the size it currently is and operational costs will be twice. It would handicap them if did not roll forward.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? Qualified yes. It's a gateway to the city. Going to bring new business to that area of town.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Qualified yes. Have not kept up with why we need a new one. I guess it’s necessary.

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? Qualified yes. I voted for it. Not sure if it’s really needed. More research needed.

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? No

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? No

Can and should government be run like a business? Yes, I believe it should be.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? Yes

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Qualified yes. I think it's going to be hard to serve both the city and parish now that we have two separate councils.

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Yes

Joyce Linde, Republican

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Joyce Linde

Occupation: Artist/photographer; since 2009 politically active in nonprofit groups that serve to educate and inform people of issues that affect them.

Reason for running: I've been involved in politics since about 2009. I formed two nonprofit organizations, endorsed candidates and worked campaigns. I believe in smaller government, lower taxes, personal freedom. I feel the current council is not focusing on the primary responsibilities of government, in Lafayette drainage and flooding, and maintaining, improving infrastructure. Police and fire protection. It's time for new leadership in government.

Biggest issue your district: Flooding and drainage. Talked to people who are fearful every time a storm comes. Someone just packed up furniture they just bought when the threat of Barry came on Acacia Drive. Another one had an inflatable dam around their house. A woman said in 2016 she flooded and became very ill from the flood. Some of the same houses flooded in 2019. How much does our government need to see not to realize it's the No. 1 priority? Property values go down. You lose what you have in your home. I feel the current council is disconnected form the citizens. 

Biggest issue entire city: Drainage and flooding. If it affects your neighbor; it affects you. I went in a beautiful home in the old Settlement. Water came up 4 feet and nothing’s been done. They voted for another library, they voted for CREATE.

How should the city address its drainage problems: As an emergency situation. It’s an emergency. On April 9 of 2019 some council members voted to take $10 million from drainage ordinance to spend on libraries. Kenneth Boudreaux said drainage was not priority for him. You have private citizens developing plans that are workable.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? I think they need to address the drainage and flooding. People don’t want move to place that's not safe. Improve roads. Pinhook Road is a disaster and will become more of a disaster with the apartment complex. There's no easy entry into Lafayette. The comprehensive plan and UDC are not business friendly. Businesses are moving where it's more welcoming.

Will you accept a pay raise? The pay raise for council members should be based on what employees get.

Would you raise taxes for any reason? No I would not. I think money needs to be moved around.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? The primary responsibility of government is the safety and protection of its people and maintaining infrastructure.

Declined to respond to further questions:

Do you support rolling millages forward? 

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter.

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette?

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS?

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS?

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations?

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money?

Can and should government be run like a business

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils?

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two?

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7?

DISTRICT 5

Janet Jackson, Democrat

Did not respond.

Glenn Lazard, Democrat

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Glenn Lazard

Occupation: Attorney

Reason for running: To make a difference. I've always been active in community affairs. This is a logical progression for me.

Biggest issue your district: District 5 is very large and diverse. In certain parts, it’s economic development, infrastructure. In other parts, for example downtown and Freetown, it's drainage and flooding. Economic development and providing meaningful jobs for residents of the district that pay living wages, not just minimum wage. District 5 is the oldest part of the city, of original Lafayette, northern part and downtown and has the oldest infrastructure. We need to correct problems that exist and be more proactive identifying infrastructure problems before they get worse and cost more, and we need to do something with the Evangeline Thruway corridor.

Biggest issue entire city: Bringing the community together. There's still a lot of divisiveness. A large part of that goes back to economic development. We have such a big gap in average household incomes in different parts of the city. We need to narrow that gap. And address infrastructure.

How should the city address its drainage problems: That’s what we pay experts for. I think we need to do a comprehensive evaluation or study. Bring all parties to the table. Get into flooding versus drainage. In District 5, I think we have occasional flooding problems but I don’t think drainage is a top problem. When we have major rainfalls, which we're having more frequently, we have flooding. Downtown is part of District 5.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? There are certain programs under-utilized or only utilized in certain areas. So we need to give businesses incentives to locate in those areas where there's the greatest need. For example, the Tax Increment Financing district at the Target complex on Louisiana Avenue and I-10. 

Will you accept a pay raise? Yes. My expectation is probably the first year on the council is going to entail a lot of extra time, work and effort as we make the transition. I think it would probably be justified.

Would you raise taxes for any reason? Yes, qualified. If it’s for a designated need. it would have to be brought before voters for approval. For example, the airport tax was temporary, for a designated need and designated time.

Do you support rolling millages forward? Yes. It doesn’t raise the taxes that people pay because millages are pre set. Library millages for example this week. There is a designated need for those funds, especially with the losses the library has suffered with the transfer of funds, fact that another millage just came off the books. In a situation like that I would certainly be in favor of it.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? Certainly. It's a gateway to the city.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Yes.

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? Yes. It's a designated need in an under-served area.

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? The devil would be in the details. I would consider it.

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? It's hard to answer that pending completion of a series of investigations. Possibly.

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? For starters, I think it's illegal. I have no problem with the city paying its pro rata share if it’s a joint project between city and parish.

Can and should government be run like a business? I think it’s impossible. The nature of government is why government was created, which is to provide services.

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? Yes

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Yes

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Probably

Lionel Rodriguez, Independent

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Lionel Rodriguez

Occupation: General manager of a mortgage company

Reason for running: I'm from the northside. I grew up on the northside, District 5. I saw a need to bring back opportunity, equity and solutions to the northside which have been missing for a very long time. This is my first time running. Main goal is to bring business development back to the northside.

Biggest issue your district: Focusing on the northside, retention of current businesses. Businesses are leaving northside. Revitalize and bring business development back. This district also includes downtown. The main issue there is infrastructure, above and below the ground. They want to bring residential development an business development downtown, but the infrastructure is an obstruction.

Biggest issue entire city: Everybody says drainage. More of an issue on the other side of town. Lack of trust that citizens have right now with local government. Without trust, I think there’s just gridlock, which is what we're seeing now.

How should the city address its drainage problems: Some of the basics. Doesn’t seem like we had an ongoing maintenance plan, clearing ditches and coulees, having continuous plan to do that so water can flow. Should have been done. Also, need a long-term plan, maybe to dredge the Vermilion River.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? Main thing we need to do is get out of the way of private industry. Government and business operate totally different. It takes government so long to get things done. Businesses in the private sector are always looking for a solution and we get it done very quickly. Government should support private industry and remove obstacles to get things done quickly.

Will you accept a pay raise? No, not in this economy

Would you raise taxes for any reason? No. Not a fan of taxes.

Do you support rolling millages forward? No.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? A qualified yes. I support my district. We're the crossroads I-10 and I-49. That should have been the gateway into Lafayette. When we talk equity, revitalizing the underpass on University, have you seen the underpass downtown? I do support them beautifying all of gateways. Let’s also look at the I-49 entrance.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? A qualified yes, if we have the funds available.

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? A qualified yes, because funds were dedicated toward the library.

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No

Should the city council consider selling fiber operations? No

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? Yes, simply because we’re all on the same team. We all have to have the same unified vision. Funds would have to be available.

Can and should government be run like a business? Yes

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? Yes

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? No, not at this time

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Yes, if it gives more representation.

Aaron Staten, No party

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Aaron Staten

Occupation: Entrepreneur, director of IT for nonprofits

Reason for running: To solve the issues I’ve seen in this community from being born and raised here, I’ve seen my whole life. It started with food deserts. Being vegan, I had to travel to the southside to get the vegetables I need. I started asking leaders in my community why. That's the root cause why I had to run. The housing crisis; economics are not in place like with Walmart and Advanced Auto just closed. 

Biggest issue your district: Public safety/gun violence. Once one happens, it shakes the community. Economics from not wanting to be out at night, business, housing. Community policing. Focused deterrents. Youth mentorship. I want to show youth the street life is not the only way. Give them economical means.

Biggest issue entire city: Drainage and economics. Because I realize even though drainage is not a northside issue so much, we're only as good as our weakest link. Economics, too, for the city, downtown, District 5.

How should the city address its drainage problems: Dredging the Vermilion River because I hear parts are only 2-5 feet deep. Also, we have to work in tandem with cleaning ditches of debris. Also drainage, trash traps. Gets plastics out of the drainage system. Clean up plastics in waterways. Reduces capacity of system.

What do you think the city government can and should do to encourage economic development, the creation of jobs? Create a higher level of community service and economic opportunities. If we invested with federal block grant money and invested in technology, we could create jobs. For example, an Acadiana-based Waitr type app. Kids could take part in a coding contest to develop it free. We can invest in things like that. Even doing roads create jobs. I’d rather it be where they're not actually working in government.

Will you accept a pay raise? No

Would you raise taxes for any reason? No. The only reason is if a majority of taxpayers desire it. There may be certain services or things they want. If they come together and say we want this and only way is to raise taxes.

Do you support rolling millages forward? Rolling back means you getting less. I support it if we already agreed to it. Only if we have a reason. If money wasn’t enough. We don’t need excess.

Do you support revitalization of University Avenue? Yes. It’s for the community. It's a gateway for people coming in. It will help morale, in my opinion. Great investment.

Do you support construction of a new animal shelter? Yes. No kill. 

Do you support building a new library in northeast Lafayette? Yes. It's not just about books. You can rent instruments. Book mobile, computer use, meeting rooms free, printing.

Do you think the city council should consider selling LUS? No. Never.

Do you think the city council should consider allowing an outside company to manage LUS? No, because the city appoints the director. We have been diligent in getting good staff. As much as capitalism is good, the bad side is certain entities come in without the best interest of community, but of corporate.

Should the city council consider selling its fiber operations? Never. We hear it is $150 to $180 million in debt. It’s about the cash flow, not debt. It is bringing in money. We have to properly utilize it. With my ideas for technology, that's a major economic investment. 

If funding is needed for something parish wide and the parish does not have enough money, would you vote to allocate city money? If it doesn’t put us in a hole. If we have extra funds available without robbing people in the city of things they need, I'm open for it. We are one community. We can’t have the parish going bankrupt.

Can and should government be run like a business? If that business is a community- driven nonprofit. The average business is about making money, which is fine. But as a city councilman I feel my duty is to the people, not the dollar. To their qualify of life, welfare. Great services. Capitalism can have you at times forgetting that. 

Did you support the December 2018 vote to split the city and parish councils? Yes

Do you support splitting the mayor-president’s position into two? Yes

Would you support an effort to increase the council size to 7? Not at this time. Need more information. It would change a lot of dynamics.

Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.