"E Eric" Guirard says things in East Baton Rouge Parish have to change, and change drastically, before he'd even advise his own kids to stay in Baton Rouge and raise their own families.
So the former stand-up comedian, turned flamboyant personal injury attorney/part-time rapper has set his sights on becoming the next mayor-president to facilitate the change he wants.
The 62-year-old self-proclaimed conservative libertarian has launched a mayoral campaign he's calling "Fuse the Rouge." His goals are simple: improve the parish's school system, make traffic more tolerable, lower Baton Rouge's crime rate, implement more business-friendly policies and foster a racially-inclusive, cleaner and healthier community.
And he says he's thinking out of the box to do so.
Former Baton Rouge personal-injury lawyer E. Eric Guirard’s seven-year hiatus from practicing law in Louisiana came to an end Friday.
"In politics you want to paint in big, bold colors," Guirard says. "I think in this age of Trump, what made him successful is that he was an outsider. I see myself in the same light. I'm the (candidate) with the most wherewithal, name recognition and personality who could reach into the black and white community and garner enough votes from each to possibly get into the runoff."
Guirard is running as an Independent in a crowded field of eight candidates, most of whom are experienced politicians.
In addition to incumbent Sharon Weston Broome, a Democrat, he faces Metro Council member Matt Watson, a Republican; current state Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, a Democrat; former state legislator Steve Carter, a Republican; businessman Jordan Piazza, a Republican; and retiree Frank Smith III, a Republican. The candidacy of an eighth candidate, Metro Council member Tara Wicker, a Democrat, is currently being challenged in the courts.
This fall's mayoral race isn't Guirard's first foray into politics. He unsuccessfully ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1995 Kathleeen Blanco, who went on to be elected governor. His campaign slogan: "Hire me to fire me."
"I thought it was a useless office and we needed to get rid of it," he said. "It was a waste of taxpayer money for a job that really does nothing important but sit around and wait for the governor to die."
More than 60,000 people voted for him.
A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, Guirard runs one of the most successful personal injury law firms in the city, known for his colorful commercials.
He turned to law after a failed attempt at stand-up comedy. But, even as a lawyer, he found other avenues to express his creativity, one of them being rap.
In 2011, he released a rap CD titled, "Tea Party Anthem," a nine-track EP with songs titled, "Gotta Be an American," "Gimme Five" and "Abortion." The cover art for the album was a shot of his face, painted with an American Flag.
"I'm the only candidate that can think enough outside the box that will really shake things up and make this a great American city," he said.
Guirard's more than 30-year career in law hasn't been without controversy.
In May 2009, the Louisiana Supreme Court disbarred him for running a "business first" model to his law firm in which he employed "case managers" who were non-lawyers but helped process personal jury claims before litigation — earning big payouts while doing it.
The Court, in a unanimous decision, said Guirard and his partner at the time harmed their clients by depriving them of a thoughtful, individualized and professional legal analysis, creating conflicts of interest and an unauthorized practice of the law.
He was readmitted by the state’s high court in April 2016.
Then in 2017, he was entangled in a bitter legal feud with Gordon McKernan, another popular personal injury attorney in Baton Rouge. Both men sued each other over advertising slogans and TV commercials, each claiming trademark infringement and identity misappropriation.
It's Gordon McKernan's "G Guarantee" versus fellow Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer E. Eric Guirard's "E Guarantee" in a lawsuit that involv…
McKernan claimed in his suit that Guirard infringed on McKernan's trademarked "G Guarantee" ad slogan with his "E Guarantee" pitch. McKernan accused Guirard of unfair and deceptive trade practices. Each side had asked that the other stop using those slogans.
The matter was settled in Dec. 2018 before going to trial.
"I'm not running because of me, I'm running for the ideas," Guirard says about his mayoral campaign. "If I don't win, maybe some of the ideas I have can take root."
His ideas include "Fund it, Don't Run It" approach to addressing the parish's failing school system. Guirard is proposing all dedicated funds for the school system be pooled and then divided among each child in the parish to use as a stipend credit that can only be spent on education.
Guirard is convinced doing so would lead to new schools and a wave of educational entrepreneurship.
"Capitalism and free enterprise works in every other aspect of our lives, so why not for the most important thing in our lives — our children's brains?" he said. "I know the mayor doesn't really having anything to do with education, but as mayor you have the connection and ability to influence education leaders."
As mayor, Guirard says he would push for a new Mississippi River bridge and widespread road improvement projects around traffic hotspots — which he calls "A Thousand Points of Fright" — to fix the daily traffic congestion plaguing the city-parish.
"If I became mayor, I would immediately get the leaders in these surrounding parishes in a room and we wouldn't come out until we made a decision about where we're putting a new bridge," he said.
He also wants enhanced annual parishwide testing for driver's licenses and electronic monitoring for speed and red lights.
As for crime, Guirard wants to combine the Baton Rouge Police Department with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office to form what he would call "The Guardian Rouge," a better paid, martial arts-trained force of officers who would don red uniforms and patrol the streets in red cars.
"This would be who different mindset; community policing on steroids," he said.
Guirard also hopes to streamline the protocols to start a business in the city-parish and improve quality of the life by aggressively cleaning up streets, ditches and blighted properties, and encouraging healthier living.
"I'm not only a lawyer, I'm a business man," he said. "I think I have more business acumen than any of the other candidates."