District 6 Council race heating up

by Walter Pierce

Incumbent Andy Naquin is running on fear and distorting his chief opponent’s record.

Naquin, left, and Conque

Andy Naquin must be feeling the heat. In a recent campaign letter titled “Standing up for Lafayette” sent to voters in District 6, the one-term incumbent played the fear card, warning that “LCG Consultants unveiled their ‘model’ ... for a massive increase in property taxes of over 300%.”

Naquin is referring to the Return on Infrastructure Investment presentation this past May in which consultants hired by LCG looked at the parish’s infrastructure needs and came to an unavoidable conclusion: Lafayette is faced with a choice — cut services or raise taxes. There will, of course, be no plans anytime soon to raise taxes in Lafayette; there simply isn’t the political will. But what Naquin doesn’t mention in his letter is that on the very day the Return of Infrastructure Investment presentation happened, the Future Needs/Funding Sources Committee, a volunteer panel of Lafayette residents chaired by a sugarcane farmer that included a chamber of commerce executive and a banker — not exactly a cabal of tax-and-spend liberals — came to the same conclusion.

Naquin also spins fear around the Unified Development Code, suggesting that despite the nearly two-year process and dozens of public meetings, the “plan re-zones everything” and that he “wanted more time to examine the long term effects of the plan more closely, but the Administration had the votes and pushed it through.”

What Naquin doesn’t mention is that he sided with the Tea Party and his ultra-conservative buddies on the Council — Jared Bellard and William Theriot — in opposing the UDC while every other Republican (and Democrat) on the Council supported it.

[The weirdest thing about Naquin’s letter, speaking of Bellard, is that the address Naquin lists on the letterhead is Bellard’s home address. We’re not sure what that’s about.]

Naquin also played to voter fear of an odd choice of bogeyman: the chamber of commerce.

“When I ran for the City-Parish Council four years ago, I strongly opposed the dangerous and divisive agenda of the Chamber of Commerce (now One Acadiana). I stood up for Lafayette against deconsolidation, against spending more taxpayer money on non-governmental purposes and for requiring a vote of the people before raising taxes...” the Tea Party politician writes, setting up an attack against Bruce Conque, the former District 6 councilman who is seeking to oust Naquin and get his old seat back:

One of my opponents this year was the architect of deconsolidation. He quit this very seat on the City-Parish Council in the middle of his term to take a job with the Chamber of Commerce. [See what Naquin is doing there?] There, he led the drive for the Charter Commission to recommend deconsolidation as our only option. Recently, he quit the Chamber to run for the Council again, in order to continue to push his divisive agenda. He is already publicly going negative and attacking me for standing up for what I believe is right.

Conque, however, was having nothing of it, answering Naquin’s misrepresentations, distortions and lies point-by-point in a Facebook post late Friday:

Never let facts stand in the way of building a political conspiracy theory. The incumbent representative for District 6 on the Lafayette Council has penned a letter that suggests I was an instrument of my former employer to drive what he calls a “dangerous and divisive agenda.”

FACT: In an effort to provide for a better life for my family, I did resign from the Lafayette City-Parish Council eight months after my re-election in 2008. The Chamber of Commerce offer provided a significant increase in personal income and benefits.

FACT: My assuming the Chamber position, following extensive negotiations, was contingent on my resigning the Council in an effort to avoid any mis-perception that the organization was influencing my actions as an elected official.

FACT: I served as a volunteer citizen on the Lafayette Charter Commission which was created by the Lafayette Council. My appointment was by the Council.

FACT: There were nine members on the Charter Commission, which crafted the document that promoted an autonomous government for the City of Lafayette.

FACT: The Chamber opposed “deconsolidation” in the 2011 referendum.

FACT: There is and will be no plan for “deconsolidation” as the people have spoken.

FACT: I did resign from the Chamber at the end of 2014; entering retirement that was made possible by my service with the organization.

FACT: As a community volunteer, I provided leadership in the creation of PlanLafayette and the subsequent Unified Development Code. It was a three year initiative with engagement of the public at every stage. Critics of the effort had every opportunity to be part of the process.

FACT: Don’t confuse reading of public record as negative political campaigning. The incumbent has been consistent in voting against the interests of the City of Lafayette: NO on PlanLafayette; NO on the Unified Development Code and NO to reconvening a Charter Commission to address the blatant inequities that exist in our existing charter.

FACT: Do not be deceived by politicians who pretend that they wish to work together while, in the very same breath, accuse others who disagree with them of being divisive.

FACT: I’m flattered that the incumbent follows me on my Facebook postings.