Walter Pierce

Forum query causes uproar

by Walter Pierce

The candidates for the state Senate District 24 seat gathered for a routine forum this week at the Clifton Chenier Center in Lafayette. All five candidates in the tilt — Quincy Richard, Link Savoie, Kelly J. Scott, and presumed frontrunners Pat Cravins and state Rep. Elbert Guillory — attended the forum. But unreported from an otherwise work-a-day political event was a sequence that threw the crowd into loud hysterics.

The moment came in the second half of the forum when candidate responses were reduced from two minutes to one minute. The first question in round two was asked by KATC TV3 anchor Hoyt Harris, who queried, “Assuming all of you will vote for him- or herself, I’m changing the rules tonight. You cannot vote for yourself, but you have to vote for one of your four fellow candidates. Who would you vote for, and why?”

The question evidently surprised and pleased a by-now bored audience, which fell into a fit of wild applause. By order of forum rules, Rep. Guillory was the first to field the zinger, an unenviable pol position to be sure. “I would look for some other candidate who has the depth of experience that I do, someone who has passed actual legis...” But the newsman would have none of it. Harris interrupted Guillory’s vague response and pressed him for a specific answer. Which candidate other than himself would he support? Again the audience blew a gasket.

According to a witness account, Guillory hemmed and hawed until his time was up, never giving a specific response, other than to say he would “vote for youth,” an apparent reference to either Richard or Scott, the only candidates in their twenties.

Cravins delivered another veiled dig at Guillory when she talked about the need for someone “ethical,” parroting a quote in the cover story this week in the The Independent Weekly, “Elbert vs. The Machine,” which details the enmity between Guillory and the Cravins family. Ultimately, however, she said she would throw her vote to Richard.