Posted: Jan 4, 2011 5:00 AM by Nichole Larkey & AP
SCOTT, La. (AP) - One of the first female politicians in Lafayette Parish has retired after five straight terms and part of another as mayor of Scott.
Hazel Myers is both the longest-serving mayor in the city's 100-year history and its first female politician.
Myers said she still loves the job, but it's time to focus on her family, especially her grandchildren.
New Mayor Purvis Morrison was sworn in Monday evening.
Myers said she first ran for office - the Scott Board of Aldermen - because she was getting bored as a housewife, after quitting her job as a bookkeeper.
The daughter of farmers who became owners of a local grocery store when she was in the fifth grade, Myers first worked as a secretary.
"It had been my goal in high school, but I found out I didn't like it," Myers said.
She left bookkeeping after 20 years.
"I had planned just to be a housewife, but I was getting bored," she said. Then Steve Guidry, who was mayor at the time, asked her in 1977 to run on his ticket.
"There were only three aldermen then and they and the mayor ran as a ticket. Usually the people elected the entire ticket," Myers
said. "It sounded good to me - just one meeting a month. I could
But by the time she said yes, Guidry's ticket was full. He suggested she approach challenger Donald Stelly.
"He told me, 'A woman on board - that will be interesting,"' she remembers.
To her surprise, Stelly's ticket won. When he left office early
for a parish government job, she won a special election for mayor.
She lost the election for a full term by 16 votes - the only election she has lost. She said she learned two things from that:
"You can't take anything for granted and you don't do a drainage project in an election year."
The project in question was still mainly mud during the election
season, she said. "I know that cost me a few votes."
As the city's first female mayor, she faced sexism - including a threatened walkout by the entire public works department.
"We only had one person in public works at that time - the town was that small," Myers said. "He was a plumber and he said, 'How can I talk about sewers with a lady?' But he got over it."
Since her first full term she's been unopposed only once but said she was never seriously challenged. Still taking nothing for
granted, she went door-to-door in 2006, even though a traffic accident had shattered bones in one of her legs.
She beat Bobby Guidry 1,074 to 606.
Since 1977, Scott has nearly quadrupled to about 8,000 residents
- the parish's largest municipality outside of the city of Lafayette - and Myers thinks the 2010 Census is likely to show 10,000 residents.
In her early days as an alderman, Myers said, the city's budget was so meager it couldn't lay 100 feet of pipe needed for the water system.
Tax revenues have grown considerably as businesses have set up
shop in the city, and development has quickened in the past decade,
especially along the stretch of Interstate 10 that runs through
But Myers always insisted the city build up savings for city projects rather than selling bonds and paying off debt afterward.
"The only thing we owe is our accounts payable from last month," she said.