Five candidates vying to be Lafayette’s next mayor-president faced off in a "Jeopardy!"-style forum hosted by One Acadiana Wednesday night where drainage plans and public funds took center stage.
The five candidates — Carlee Alm-LaBar (no party), Simone Champagne (Republican), Josh Guillory (Republican), Carlos Harvin (Democrat) and Nancy Marcotte (Republican), — were each given three opportunities to pick one of three mystery questions from each of five categories and then give an answer on stage once the question was revealed, similar to the way contestants on the TV game show pick from a shrinking set of unknown questions from one of several categories.
The forum was moderated by Jim Hummel of KATC and broadcast live by KATC-TV3 Wednesday night.
Guillory picked the first question of the night and said he sees Lafayette’s city-parish government’s current retirement system as a place for cost savings.
“One of the most important aspects that we need to look at is our retirement system, Guillory said.
Guillory said switching from the current municipal employee retirement system to a parochial system could save much-needed budget funds and allow the government to better fund its priorities. That switch could save thousands and wouldn’t affect current government employees, only new hires, he said.
Marcotte was asked about working with other parishes and dealing with push back on the potential plan to dredge the Vermilion River from areas downstream from Lafayette.
“I understand that Vermilion Parish does not necessarily want the water from up north to come through their parish,” Marcotte said, “but I think if we restore the Vermilion back to where it was, they’re not going to have any more water than they ever had, it’s just going to come a little bit faster.”
Harvin was faced with explaining under what circumstances he would support a new tax, and answered that finding the right balance of cost to value is key to deciding which taxes to bring to voters.
“Price is an issue only in the absence of value,” Harvin said. “If we value something important enough, we’ll be willing to make that sacrifice, so I’ll support whatever the voters support.”
“I believe that if the sheriff has critical needs and is going to protect the people, then he should be able to use that money,” she said. “However, that does mean, and I’m sure that the sheriff would do this, that everything has to be accounted for.”
"Lafayette’s cultural economy has long been a really important part of who we are and what makes people come here," Alm-LaBar said. "I would be committed to working together with the citizens to determine how we to continue to funding our cultural economy."