After months of campaigning the end is in sight for the candidates in the runoff for Lafayette Mayor-President.
Republican Josh Guillory entered the runoff as the front-runner from the primary, where he won 31% of the vote compared to Independent candidate Carlee Alm-Labar, who received 28%.
Guillory, an attorney who is also an Iraq War veteran, points to his background on the battlefield as his best experience for Lafayette’s top job.
“There's no stronger leader in this race than I am,” said Guillory. “I don't have all the answers I promise you that. But I know will surround myself around good people, so we can bring good government to Lafayette.”
Alm-Labar, who most recently worked as a director of planning for Southern Lifestyle Development, spent eight years working in LCG as chief development officer and a director of development and planning. She says that experience makes her the most qualified candidate in the race.
“Our auditors have said that Lafayette Consolidated Government is the most complicated local government in the state of Louisiana,” said Alm-Labar. “The terms of the mayor-president are only four years and we have a lot of urgent work to do on drainage, on our local economy, on creating a business-friendly government, and I’m ready on day one to get in there and make those changes.”
Both Guillory and Alm-Labar cite public safety in their platforms. They applaud the recent pay raises for police, but have concerns about what it means for the general fund.
“The next council and administration will have to get to work on day one to find a funding source and that is likely going to result in cuts,” said Alm-Labar.
“Police and fire have to be a priority,” said Guillory. “There are other areas where we can cut, we can look at areas where we're investing in the future and find if there are cost-effective ways to do that.”
Under Mayor-President Joel Robideaux’s administration, controversial traffic cameras were removed from the city. We asked the candidates if they would be open to revisiting contracts with companies like Redflex.
“I do not support the redlight cameras, I believe it violates the 7th amendment, the confrontation clause,” said Guillory.
“We had a lot of flaws with the original program so we need to take care of those, some of the collection issues, but I think generally speaking I’m interested in working with law enforcement when technology can help them do their jobs better,” said Alm-Labar.
We also addressed the Alfred Mouton statue in downtown Lafayette. Similar confederate monuments have been taken down across the country. We asked the candidates if they support the work of group Move the Mindset, which is working to have the statue moved to a museum.
“There’s a court order that says it can’t be moved,” said Alm-Labar. “So what are the things that we can focus on that actually help us heal racial divisions in our community, that help us improve the prospects for some of our disadvantaged children and minority communities, and that’s where I focus my time and energy.”
“I would support keeping the statue up, but I would also be open minded to hear any of our concerns,” said Guillory. “I’m running for mayor-president to bring our community together and I’m not going to let a statue divide our community, I know that.”
Both candidates have found common ground in being attacked on social media. We asked about civility in politics, and what they would tell their own supporters who are behind some of the attacks.
“I can control me, I can control my campaign,” said Guillory. “We’ve had a positive campaign, and we’ve been very fact-oriented, solution-oriented and that’s going to continue through my administration.”
“It’s a shameful distraction and so I would just encourage everyone-- let’s talk about what are our plans for drainage, let's talk about keeping our young people here, let’s talk about the direction of our economy-- and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Alm-Labar.
After months of campaigning, Lafayette voters will have their say on Saturday.
“I love this community, my kids grow up in this community, I met my wife in this community, this is my home. Between Jamie and I, we have three degrees from UL Lafayette. I love this place and I would be honored to serve as mayor-president,” said Guillory.
“Everyone cares for Lafayette, everyone wants the best for the future of Lafayette. That’s been the most, I guess humbling part of running for office, is getting a chance to talk to those folks and hopefully find common ground so we can move Lafayette forward,” said Alm-Labar.