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Candidate Profiles: Lafayette City Council District 4

Lafayette City Council District 4
Posted at 5:05 PM, Oct 06, 2023

The Gubernatorial Primary is October 14, and early voting is already underway.

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We've sent out questions to all of the candidates in some of Acadiana's hottest races, and we're posting the questions and each candidate's responses online so our viewers can get some information about the people who are asking for their vote.

We sent the questions to each candidate using the email address they provided to the Secretary of State when they qualified for the race. If we didn't hear back by the deadline we provided, we called them using the telephone number they provided to the Secretary of State when they qualified for the race.

If we receive any responses after this story is posted, we will update it when we do.

We've sent out questions to every candidate running for every seat on the Lafayette City Council and Lafayette Parish Council. District 3 Lafayette City Council Member Liz Hebert and Parish Council Members Bryan Tabor (District 1) and John Guilbeau (District 4) were all re-elected without opposition.

In the District 4 race on the Lafayette City Council, incumbent Nanette Cook decided not to run again. Thomas Hooks and Julie LeBlanc are running for the seat.

Here are the questions (in italics) we asked, followed by the full response received from each candidate.

THOMAS HOOKS
Please give us a brief summary of your qualifications for this position.
I graduated from UL in finance and then earned my law degree from LSU. I worked in a large regional law firm doing business transactional work, then moved in-house for a large industrial services company. That opened up new opportunities in finance- and strategy-related positions for both large and small companies. I served as chair of the Lafayette Planning and Zoning Commission. My wife, Sarah, and I are active parishioners at Our Lady of Wisdom and involved in marriage ministry there. I also coach my kids’ sports and enjoy running and fitness.

Why do you want to be a member of the council?
My wife and I have five children, and we think often about their future. Like a lot of other professionals our age, we’ve been tempted with career opportunities in larger cities like
Houston. But we made the decision to stay in Lafayette because this is our home. It’s where our family and friends are. It’s where we grew up and where we want our children to grow up. That’s why I’m running, because we want the next generation to have an opportunity to grow their careers and raise their families here. And to deliver on that, we have not only to preserve our way of life, but to build on it.

What do you believe is the single biggest challenge facing the City Council?
A big long-term challenge is comfort with the status quo. Lafayette is the best place to live in our state. We have one of our state’s strongest economies. And we have one of the better educational systems in the state. But we can’t settle for being the best place to live in a state that is often at the bottom of the list. Think of our culture—it’s world class. We have one of the country’s largest free music festivals. Tourists make trips here just to sample the food. And our
music helps set us apart from any other place on Earth. None of that happened by accident. We embraced those aspects of our lives and culture and we put a lot of pride and work into them. We need to have the same type of drive and desire to be world class when it comes to our economy and our quality of life. It will take some work, but I’m up for the challenge.

What is your position regarding the use of city funds to cover parish needs?
The law is clear that city tax dollars can be used only for city needs. As the City Councilman for District 4, my job is to make sure we follow the law. The council’s job is to scrutinize every line of the budget and make sure that your tax dollars are spent wisely and efficiently, so that they deliver the greatest positive impact possible. Strong cities make for a strong parish. That’s how we can work together.

Would you try to implement any changes if elected? If so, what would they be?
I would like us to focus on the future of Lafayette again. We’ve spent the last several years looking backwards. To some extent, that’s understandable—the 2016 floods and the pandemic
required us to focus on more immediate needs. But it’s time to think ahead again. We’ve got to spend more time and energy anticipating opportunities and challenges rather than reacting to them. We have a great deal of potential, but the only way we’ll realize it is if we stop getting
bogged down in yesterday’s problems and start working on tomorrow’s solutions.

For the past four years, the administration’s drainage program has drawn lawsuits and criminal investigations. The administration has not freely provided responses to council members about it. What is your position about the situation?
It’s the City Council’s job to provide effective oversight of the budget, including major infrastructure projects for things like drainage and roads. To do that well, the council needs as much relevant information as possible. If the council isn’t being provided the information it needs
to carry out this oversight, that’s a problem. We all should expect our government and elected officials to be open, honest, and transparent.

JULIE LEBLANC
We reached out to LeBlanc, but, to date, have not received a response.