Richard has served two terms as mayor, and 61-year-old Taylor says people in town are ready for a change. But it's the members and supporters of the town's growing artists community who most want him to win. Richard has demonstrated a lack of support for the artists community since its 2004 inception, and while the artists have moved forward without her, the group does want cooperation from town government. Differing views about the artists have nearly split the town in half, and Taylor says his goal is to unify the people of Arnaudville.
"It seems like we lost the feeling of unity in this community," he says. "It shouldn't be having two factions. This community's too small. We need to be able to communicate, get along and decide. Even if we do disagree, we need to be able to learn that it is OK to disagree."
Unity is the underlying theme in this election. Alderman candidate Doc Broussard also says the town needs to come together. "We gotta have unity, cher," he says. Broussard served as an alderman from 1979 to 1983 and 1999 to 2003. "I think it will be a very good race, a close race," he says.
This election was expected to produce plenty of mudslinging, but things in Arnaudville are relatively quiet. "I want Arnaudville to be positive, so I'm going to be positive," says Taylor in a thick Cajun accent. "I want to win on my own merits, not by criticizing [Richard]." The most pointed shot he's taken is pointing out that Richard has served as a part-time mayor for both her terms and also sells insurance for State Farm. He says Arnaudville needs a full-time mayor, and he's got the time. It's not uncommon for mayoral positions in small towns to be part-time, but Taylor says, "I'm retired. I'm available."
Taylor and Richard have both recycled their old signs from previous elections and put them up around town, amid other signs for candidates for alderman, police chief, school board and St. Landry Parish sheriff. Taylor's two hand-painted signs by local artist Kathleen Whitehurst stand out among the group, decorated with a line of trees and a sunrise. Whitehurst also painted the words "integrity," "leadership," "honest," "fun" and "accountable." Painter Alex Nunez, who has studio space in Town Market, the main gathering spot for the artists, designed Taylor's T-shirts, which feature a black-and-white caricature of Taylor repeated three times with his slogan. Taylor holds up the T-shirt and explains the trio of images: "As you knew me in the past, that's how I am today and that's how I'll be tomorrow."
Taylor's campaign strategy is simple: going door-to-door talking to voters. As of last Wednesday, he'd visited the homes of about 99 percent of Arnaudville's 865 registered voters. His daily schedule includes driving the school bus for the Academy of Sacred Heart in the morning and afternoon and stumping before lunch and after school. Last Wednesday, he drove his black Explorer around town trying to catch voters he'd missed at their homes. He also stopped to talk to Earl Kidder, who was trimming weeds at Creations Hair & Tanning Salon, about absentee votes for elder residents.
The residents of the small town ' population 1,398 ' are reluctant to talk about politics and their support for one candidate or another. Richard did not return calls for this story, nor did Myran Chautin, owner of Myran's Maison de Manger restaurant in Arnaudville, who contributed $1,000 to Richard's campaign. Richard has also received funds from her neighbors Errol and Kim Guidroz and town clerk Dolores Quebedeaux for a total of $1,275. Taylor's only raised $170, and he and his wife have contributed $500 of their own money to the campaign.
Taylor worked with Richard as an alderman for the past four years. "She maybe lost sight of the proper way to lead the community," he says. "I do feel Arnaudville could be better. Yes, we do have a good situation, but it could be even better so." If elected, Taylor plans to update the infrastructure with new street signs and sidewalks, continue to improve the water system and re-establish the Chamber of Commerce, which fell apart under Richard's administration. On the topic of cleaning up the city, he says he would encourage people to take part in planting flowers and trees. "We could do an annual cleanup to the point of joining the cleanest city contest," he says. "There's no reason why we shouldn't be in there."
In her campaign brochure, Richard also emphasizes unity and says, "Positive attitudes with teamwork will further strengthen our town's unity and growth." But under her leadership, relations between herself, the council and police department have become strained to the point of yelling in town meetings and some officials not being allowed to talk to other officials. Taylor says the situation is ridiculous. "There's no reason why the mayor and the chief should not be able to work together. There's no reason why the policemen on patrol cannot stop and talk to me while I'm walking my little dog down the street. But now they can't. Under my administration, the council is the government by and for the people. The council makes the decisions, not the mayor."
Taylor plans to finish going door-to-door this week and finish campaigning before the Sept. 30 election. He doesn't seem phased by what the outcome of the election could mean for the town. "I'm going with the flow," he says. "Hopefully, it will pay off."
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.