LPSO promises a candidate forum with tough questions on real issues

by Patrick Flanagan

After the first two sheriff’s candidate forums left much to be desired in terms of getting to the bottom of the real issues surrounding this year’s race, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office has announced a forum of its own.

From the Sheriff’s Office’s press release issued Thursday announcing the forum:

The forum will give citizens of the parish an opportunity to hear the candidate’s specific views on a variety of important local criminal justice and public safety issues. Questions at the forum will deal primarily with the views on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office current strategy and specific changes they would make if elected.

The event will be moderated by The Independent’s very own political contributor Dr. Pearson Cross, a longtime political science professor and currently the interim associate dean of UL’s College of Liberal Arts.

The candidate forums held so far for this race have mostly disappointed
— with questions focused on

In his four terms in office, Mike Neustrom has set a very high bar for whoever becomes his successor as Lafayette Parish's next sheriff.
Photo by Robin May

non-issues like moving the jail from its downtown location, which would ultimately be a decision for the Lafayette City-Parish Council and not the sheriff. These previous forums have allowed the candidates to rely heavily on overly-broad statements and good-cop platitudes, responses that essentially say nothing about who they really are or what they would actually do if elected.

The real issue fueling this race — the one previous forums have failed to grasp — centers on the question: Will these candidates continue the diversion programs created under Sheriff Mike Neustrom's watch or will they dismantle them piece by piece and revert back to the days of a deterrence-based approach? That's the question we should be asking. But we're still waiting.

LPSO's forum, however, promises to be different from what we've seen so far.

Continuing from Thursday’s press announcement (bold ours):

Questions for the forum will be solicited from the media in advance and formulated by Dr. Cross. **Questions will be geared at getting the candidates to be specific about how they see their role and the agency’s role in our criminal justice.
The outcome of this election will have great impact on our fast growing community. Knowing and understanding what the candidates see as the role of the sheriff in the sixth largest parish in Louisiana is important. This event is being held as a service to the voters of Lafayette Parish.

The non-partisan forum is free and it’s open to the public. The event will be held at noon on Thursday, Aug. 27 at LPSO’s Willow Street Safety Complex, located at 1825 W. Willow St. A light lunch will also be served. All four of the announced candidates are expected to participate.

Of all the forums focusing on this race that will be held between now and October 24, this is the one you don’t want to miss.

In the meantime, click here for a good primer on the complex issues in this race and what to look for in the candidates.