Pierre bobs and weaves The Ind, just as Hardy finally sets foot into the debate ring.
In a strange, body-switching turn of events, businessman Vincent Pierre dodged questions from a media outlet — this very publication — but threw jabs at incumbent state Rep. Rickey Hardy, while Hardy willingly answered journalists’ questions and resurrected his boxing gloves — figuratively, of course — at Monday’s District 44 runoff debate.
Both Democrats, who face each other in the Nov. 19 runoff, were asked whether they support Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed plans to privatize public education and grade teachers’ performances. A product of the public education system who served as a Lafayette Parish School Board member, Hardy is an advocate for reforming public education and believes there needs to be a scale to measure teachers’ effectiveness.
“We need to have a mechanism that will work, [and] that’s gonna have teachers evaluated based on performance,” says Hardy, donning a vermilion tie emblazoned with UL Lafayette insignia. “Just ask your coaches, if they have an 0-9 losing record on the football field at UL, that coach won’t last but two years. However, teachers stay in the system for 20, 30 years and they’ve never been evaluated.”
Apparently taking his cue from Opelousas Mayor Donald Cravins, who has refused to even participate in a debate if an Independent reporter is on the panel, Pierre refused to agree or disagree with Hardy’s stance, citing his contention with The Ind as grounds for not answering.
“I choose not to answer this question from The Independent,” said Pierre, whose raucous supporters applauded and cheered this statement although moderator and UL journalism professor Dr. Robert Buckman requested they hold all applause until the end of the debate. “The Independent has been very biased toward me in the last couple of weeks. It is unfortunate...We are running a race for both people, and I refuse at this time to answer from The Ind.”
Although Pierre did not answer questions from The Ind, KADN FOX 15’s Mike Mitchell asked Pierre about his ties with ex-Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams, which The Ind’s Leslie Turk and Heather Miller reported on in this Oct. 26 story, “The Ex Factor.”
“I am not running on any influence but the children and economic development of Lafayette,” said Pierre, refusing to directly answer Mitchell’s question.
When asked about his allegiances to City-Parish President Joey Durel, Hardy said he has a “working relationship” with Lafayette’s executive branch and compared that relationship to one a Republican would have with President Obama. Pierre noted at the debate that Hardy aligned his votes with the Jindal administration 72 percent of the time and against it only 4 percent.
“I’m going to work real hard, but I’m not going to support continuously voting yes on everything that the governor brings up, everything that comes from the administration,” said the challenger.
At one point in the debate, Hardy accused Pierre of lack of experience. Pierre, who once co-owned a dry-cleaning service (it’s unclear what he does now), says Hardy has not created enough jobs in District 44 — which encompasses 30 precincts in northeastern Lafayette Parish from University Avenue to Gloria Switch Road. Hardy argued he has created jobs, citing the North Lafayette TIF initiative that led to a bustling Target-anchored retail center, and also pointed to his appointment on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He explained that it takes time to accomplish tasks in Baton Rouge, charging Pierre with acting upon “feelings” rather than facts.
“He [Pierre] has never served in public office before, doesn’t have a record, has never ever been elected to public office, but he can sit down and criticize what I do and what I have done,” said Hardy. “My opponent has done nothing. He wants to go to Baton Rouge; he’s going to bring the magical wand and be able to do a whole bunch of things working with the transportation department, working with legislators. It takes time to do those things.”
Pierre, a Southern University alumnus, criticized Hardy’s vote in favor of the Southern University New Orleans-University of New Orleans merger.
Pierre said there is a much bigger picture to consider: “I think we need to look at the entire system to make sure that everyone is getting a fair and equitable education."
Hardy acknowledged he voted in favor of the merger, likening it to that of corporate mergers like the one between AT&T and Cingular. “The system is failing,” the incumbent contended. “It’s not the children. We have to do better than what we are doing.”
The candidates agreed on one key issue: economic development. They say ushering in more oil and gas industries in Lafayette will provide employment opportunities for District 44 residents. They added that infrastructure improvement would boost economic conditions.
Calling I-10 and I-49 “the front yard of this area,” Pierre said: “We need to work tirelessly to try to bring service roads so we can get companies to locate here. We have the right product, we have the right place, and this is the right time for people and businesses to come here. There have been absolutely nothing brought to this economy into District 44 as it relates to jobs and the economy in the last four years.”
Hardy countered that the $20 million Evangeline Thruway extension project proves he has been helping the economy within the last four years.
During the Oct. 22 primary, Hardy earned 43 percent of the vote, Pierre took home 40 percent and a third candidate, Roshell Jones, received 17 percent. Jones has since endorsed Hardy.
The debate was sponsored by the UL chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the university’s Political Science Club.
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Marijuana source of disputes for HOAs; experts say still safe to fly; Russian-supported attacks on Ukraine and more national and international news for Friday, July 25, 2014.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.
The latest meeting of a south Louisiana flood board that stirred political turmoil with a lawsuit against the oil and gas industry is taking place amid uncertainty over the future of the lawsuit — and the board's own membership.
The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down or been scuttled when a passenger ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine in 1942.
Advocate columnist and Jindal shill Quin Hillyer has been against the New Orleans levee board lawsuit from day one, but a recent piece targeting author/activist John Barry prompted the perfect rebuttal from the board’s former vice-president, who takes Hillyer to task on just about every distorted claim he’s made on the issue.
Thousands of people who bought health insurance through the marketplace created by the federal health care overhaul face price hikes next year that could top 10 percent.
Louisiana fell one spot in an annual national ranking of child well-being that looks at poverty, education and health access.
A federal judge has decided he doesn't need to hear more arguments in the case of a gay couple who want a Louisiana marriage license.
Saints again bring playoff aspirations into 2014 campaign.
New details in the case against the man arrested for last week’s bomb threat and bank robbery has surfaced, including a MidSouth Bank surveillance video showing the alleged suspect attempt an early-morning bank robbery.
Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards sued Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday over his actions against the multi-state standards, accusing him of illegally meddling in education policy.
An arrest was announced this morning in connection with last week’s bomb scare at UL Lafayette.
Attorneys, judges and others interviewed by LaPolitics expect 15 to 20 district judge races this year.
"I feel like I'm under siege," an attorney said recently over drinks at Galatoire's Bistro in Baton Rouge. "We all do. Every time I turn around somebody wants a check. District attorney races. The judges. They're killing us."
As a requirement for running for Congress in the 6th District, former Gov. Edwin Edwards has filed his financial disclosure statement with the U.S. House showing his income in 2013 totaling $242,787.
Unlike those swindled by Bernie Madoff, the victims of Texas businessman Robert Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme won’t be getting any relief from the Securities Investor Protection Corp.’s emergency fund after a recent appellate court ruling.
The legal challenge is part of a continuing struggle over Common Core, which has become controversial since the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards in 2010.
The lone Democrat to announce he's running for governor, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, criticized Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's budgeting tactics as "running the state like a big Ponzi scheme."