Empower PAC endorses 1st LPSB incumbent for re-election

by Patrick Flanagan

The Chamber's Empower PAC has endorsed its second candidate for this year's LPSB elections, announcing it will support the reelection campaign of District 5 incumbent Kermit Bouillion.

Empower PAC, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce's political action committee, has endorsed its second candidate for this year's LPSB elections, announcing it will support the reelection campaign of District 5 incumbent Kermit Bouillion.

District 5 school board member Kermit Bouillion

In his four years on the school board, Bouillion has proven an unflinching supporter of Superintendent Pat Cooper's Turnaround Plan for the school system; he's also been vehemently opposed to the efforts by a majority of his fellow board members to balance this year's budget with the use of widespread cuts and staff reductions.

Bouillion faces one challenger for his seat: Britt Latiolais, a one-time failed candidate for city-parish council whose school board campaign has largely been fashioned in opposition to the stances taken by Bouillion, namely Bouillion's backing of the Turnaround Plan.

Though his first four years on the board have largely been characterized by the contention between a majority of his fellow board members and the superintendent, Bouillion, despite being among a minority on the board, has stood firm in what he believes, never wavering in his support for the plan to get our school system on the right track.

That resolve hasn't gone unnoticed.

"For the past four years, Kermit has been a rock-solid advocate for the students and teachers of Lafayette," says Empower PAC Chairman Frank Neuner in announcing Bouillion's endorsement. "His perseverance and dedication has been one of the few bright spots on a board more intent on arguing over personal differences than improving the quality of education. We couldn't be prouder of the incumbent in District 5."

For Bouillion, the decision to make a second for the District 5 seat wasn't difficult:

When I considered running for reelection, some friends and colleagues asked whether I was tired of sticking up for the children only to be voted down again and again. I'm not tired, I'm just getting started. As a father and a former teacher, I know that if there is one thing worth fighting for, it's our children and our grandchildren. That's exactly why I decided to run for reelection.

I hope I win. I want the opportunity to work with fellow school board members who care more deeply about our children than they do about making the 6 o'clock news attacking someone. Lafayette Parish deserves a group of leaders who will stand up for our children and our teachers.

The Bouillion endorsement marks the Empower PAC's second endorsement in this year's school board elections. He is, however, the first incumbent to receive the chamber's backing, which says a lot based how a majority of his fellow board members have acted over the last four years.

"Despite the dysfunction of our school board, there have been incumbents who consistently voted to improve student achievement by supporting the community developed Turnaround Plan," says Chamber President and CEO Jason El Koubi, a non-voting member of Empower PAC's board of directors. "We commend the hard fought efforts of those individuals. Our community deserves leaders who will remain focused on improving student achievement and preparedness.

El Koubi doesn't name the other incumbents, the ones like Bouillion, who actually used their seats on the board over the last four years to improve the education system in Lafayette Parish. But since they're deserving of the mention, we'll save you the guess-work: These incumbent board members include District 3's Shelton Cobb and District 7's Mark Cockerham, who like Bouillion, have also shown great tenacity in the last four years in standing up against the disruptive actions of the board's other six incumbents.

According to today's announcement, Empower PAC will continue to make endorsements of school board candidates in the coming days.

And go here for more on Empower PAC's first candidate endorsement, which was issued Tuesday announcing its support for political newcomer Justin Centanni in his run for the District 6 seat being vacated by Greg Awbrey.