House 96 race crowding with candidates

by Heather Miller

So far, six people are vying for the newly created majority-minority district, which includes most municipalities of St. Martin Parish as well as small portions of Lafayette and Iberia parishes.

[Editor's Note: This story was updated on July 27 to include information on Vincent Alexander, the sixth person who's announced his intentions to run for the House District 96 seat.]

Though not formally announced, the signs are already popping up around north Lafayette asking voters to elect Iberia Parish School Board member Raymond "Shoe-Do" Lewis to the newly created state House of Representatives seat that spawned from the most recent legislative redistricting session.

The majority black district includes St. Martinville, Parks, Breaux Bridge and Cypress Island in St. Martin Parish. It also includes parts of northwest Iberia Parish and a few precincts in the city of New Iberia. In Lafayette Parish, the new district includes a small portion of north Lafayette as well as two voting precincts in Broussard.

Lewis, a former member of the New Iberia City Council who was elected twice before leaving his council seat this year to join the Iberia Parish School Board, says no one knew before the redistricting session that a new House district would include portions of Iberia Parish.

"They all thought it was going to go up north," says Lewis, who works at the Walmart Distribution Center in Opelousas. He tells The Ind that he plans to formally announce his candidacy at an Aug. 3 Iberia Parish School Board meeting.
"I'm running because I'm progressive, and I would ask anybody that's announced or will announce to match my record of public service," Lewis says.

Lewis is joining former Louisiana State Police Superintendent Terry Landry, former St. Martinville Mayor Eric Martin, former St. Martinville Assistant Police Chief Nary Smith Sr., Breaux Bridge businessman Vincent Alexander and St. Martin Parish School Board member Richard Potier in the race for the new district seat. The election is Oct. 22.

"I have been a civil servant for 34 years and I would like to keep serving the public in a different capacity, honestly and fairly, with equal justice for all," Smith told The Teche News when he announced his intentions to run.

Landry says in his campaign information that "the people of this district need a voice in Baton Rouge to champion their interests, not the special interests whose voices are already well-represented in Baton Rouge. I am running to ensure that, as a state, we invest in our children and honor the work of our seniors who provided us the opportunities we have today."

Alexander, a Breaux Bridge insurance agent, bailbondsman and radio station owner, says on his website that he's running on a platform of improving health care access to District 96 residents and, among other things, improving the unemployment rate to pre-recession levels.

Martin tells The Advertiser that he will "fight for job growth in the region, work with small businesses and will unite the district to be a southern leader in small business, agriculture, oil and gas, healthcare and tourism."

Potier could not be reached for comment Monday morning.

Read more here, here and here.