Qualifying for slew of Lafayette elex begins Wednesday

by Walter Pierce

Candidates in races in every district in Lafayette Parish will qualify for the Oct. 2 election this week. Candidates in races in every district in Lafayette Parish will qualify for the Oct. 2 election Wednesday through Friday this week. Seats up for grabs include mayor and council members/aldermen in the five smaller parish municipalities - Broussard, Carencro, Duson, Scott and Youngsville - as well as chief of police in all the towns except Duson.

All nine seats on the Lafayette Parish School Board are up for grabs. Six first-term members - Greg Awbry, Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley, Shelton Cobb, Mark Cockerham and Rae Trahan - tell The Daily Advertiser they plan to seek re-election. Current board president Carl Lacombe has not signalled his intentions. Meanwhile, the board's longest serving members, Mike Hefner and Ed Sam, have announced their retirements. Each began service on the school board in 1990; Hefner also filled the unexpired term of his father-in-law in 1986.

Lafayette voters will also elect a U.S. senator; incumbent Republican David Vitter is polling comfortably ahead of Democratic U.S.Rep. Charlie Melancon, the most viable candidate in a race that still may not require a November runoff. Seventh Congressional District U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany faces re-election, sharing the Oct. 2 ballot in Lafayette with the race for lieutenant governor and an open seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal. Four candidates in Lafayette Parish, all of them Republicans, have already begun campaigning for the appeals court.

The recent squabbles including lawsuits in south Lafayette Parish could color the races for mayor in Broussard and Youngsville. Charles Langlinais and Wilson Viator have been at each other's throats over annexations along the recently opened stretch of Ambassador Caffery South. Langlinais told The Independent in May that he's enthusiastic about seeking a sixth term in Broussard. "I plan on running and being reelected," he said. "I love what I'm doing and my first family is the city of Broussard; my second family is my kids and my wife."

An intriguing race is also taking place in St. Landry Parish, where incumbent Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins, a Democrat and don of a political dynasty in the parish, will face a challenge from Lena Anderson, a black Republican businesswoman and former newspaper reporter who is an Opelousas native but lived most of her life in California. Anderson says she will qualify Wednesday for the race.