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."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)