OPELOUSAS, La. — Early voting is ending this weekend for the March 20th election. On the ballot in St. Landry Parish is the parish president's seat.
Running is incumbent Jessie Bellard and Dwain Buller. Bellard is a registered Democrat; Buller registered as a Republican.
Bellard is serving as interim parish president. He took over as parish president after Bill Fontenot stepped down in August 2020 due to health issues. Bellard says he handled parish-wide issues as Director of Administration from 2004-2014. At the time he also worked in the fire department as a captain.
"So that experience, working hands on, on the payable side, and with direct administration, I started that process in 2004. We came in and transitioned from a jury to home row charter. Nobody else can come sit at this desk and understand what we went through in 2004. What it took to get here," Bellard said.
Buller does not have a political background, but tells KATC his business skills will make him a successful parish president. Buller is a crawfish and rice farmer, and is also a licensed contractor.
"If farms were ran like government, we would starve. If government were ran like farms, we'd have the best roads in the world," Buller said. "I have been building roads and bridges for years. I have an extensive background in wetland restoration."
Buller and Bellard don't see eye-to-eye when it comes to the biggest issue in the parish. Buller believes drainage is the top problem. He says if elected his administration will begin resolving drainage and road issues immediately.
"We really have to address our drainage issues in St. Landry Parish. We are drowning in water, homes are flooding, crops are being lost, people's businesses are going down to water. It affects multiple parishes. It has to be addressed," Buller said.
Bellard acknowledges drainage is an issue, but says the people need more assistance.
"Our parish is not just about drainage. Drainage is a small portion of our problem in our parish. Drainage affects the road conditions, it affects the quality of life for some people," said Bellard. "But other people need a house, some people just need assistance, some people just need the basic necessities."