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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Candidates discuss views at forum

Candidates discuss views at forum

A political forum hosted by the Chamber of Lafourche and the Bayou Region was held on Thursday for candidates for Lafourche Parish School Board as well as District Judge Division B and Lafourche Parish Assessor.

The three candidates seeking the judgeship from retiring judge Jerome Barbera are John J. Erny, III, Anthony “Tony” Lewis and Steve Miller.

Erny is an attorney in private practice while Lewis and Miller both serve as assistants in the Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s office.

On the topic of crime and incarceration, Erny stressed the need to punish violent offenders while using other vehicles for rehabilitation of non-violent offenders such as the long established drug court.

Lewis noted that while violent offenders need to be handled accordingly, a possible option for rehabilitation of non-violent offenders is the work release program established in the parish.

“In the case of a non violent individual who can be rehabilitated, work release and possible home incarceration are possibilities that should be looked into. This allows the non-violent individual to keep working and provide for his family and give back to the community,” said Lewis.

Miller stressed that the focus to crime prevention needs to begin in the home.

“The moral compass of an individual begins in the home. While the court must deal with violent and repeat offenders in the proper manner, the individuals who can be rehabilitated and become productive members of society must be attended to through the drug court and other programs,” he stated.

One of the possible options Miller noted for future consideration is a mental health court.

“A mental health court is something that could be looked into as a further option for non violent offenders. We need to consider all options and keep an open mind, but with public safety as the always top issue.”

Three candidates are seeking the post of Lafourche Parish Assessor. The candidates are Jonathan “Jo Jo” Cheramie of Thibodaux, State Representative Jerome “Dee” Richard of Thibodaux and interim Assessor Wendy Thibodeaux also of Thibodaux.

When asked what they believed the role of the assessor was in dealing with the business community, Cheramie stated that fairness was the most important component.

“The assessment of properties at fair market value. That’s what I’ll do,” he said.

Richard noted his years in public service, specifically the Louisiana Legislature.

“Time should be spent lobbying the legislature and balancing the exemptions because what is good for the business owner can impact the homeowner and vice versa,” he said.

Thibodeaux acknowledged that the role of the office is to “keep businesses in business.” “The office has to balance tax rolls so that the tax burden is fair to all parties,” she said.

All candidates spoke in favor of protecting the homestead exemption with Cheramie noting, “everyone should pay something, even if it’s only $50.”

Richard likened it (homestead exemption) to a “political football.” “It will never go away,” he said.

In closing, Cheramie stressed his education and his service to his country through the armed forces. Richard noted his years of public service and his being the only elected official in the contest. Thibodeaux noted that she is the only certified assessor in the race and the only one who has worked in the assessor’s office giving her the training “to do the job from day one.”

Early voting is scheduled for October 21 thru October 28.

Election day is Tuesday, November 4.

Candidates running for several races in the November 4 primary were on hand for a political forum Thursday at the Mathews Government Complex. The event was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.