20110914-cover-0105NoiseMaker: Rochon Entry Shakes Up District 3 Race

Shortly before qualifying closed last Thursday, District 3 City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin was blindsided by a formidable opponent.

(Truth be told, the embattled councilman knew someone would challenge him, because we’d told him so. Our sources say he just didn’t know who.)

Carencro City Manager Lloyd Rochon, who vied for the District 3 City-Parish Council seat four years ago, qualified for the post Thursday afternoon. And while he insists he will run on his credentials and his desire to serve, Rochon says he has long vowed not to let Shelvin walk back into office. When it appeared that the controversial first-term councilman may have no opposition, Rochon says his wife, Eva Dell, also stepped up to the challenge and encouraged him to seek the seat once again.

Largely an unknown candidate — but backed by a faction of the black community that included then-influential KJCB radio — Shelvin ran first among a field of five in the 2007 primary, and Rochon received 15 percent of the vote, losing a runoff spot to Shawn Wilson’s 18 percent.

In the general election, Wilson was defeated by Shelvin, who garnered 57 percent of the vote. It’s been all downhill since for Shelvin, who — elected at 30 years old — became the youngest person to serve on Lafayette’s consolidated council.

Saying he wants the opportunity to help move District 3 forward, Rochon does believe Shelvin’s character will be an issue this time around. “People know [Shelvin] now, and they also know me. So they have a clear choice,” Rochon says.
“When people elect a person as a council member, they put their sacred trust in that individual,” Rochon continues. “And when a person betrays that trust, they should be replaced. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Rochon, who retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1977 after 22 years, has a long history of government involvement. “My résumé speaks for itself,” he says. Rochon worked as a communications consultant for South Central Bell for a short time and was director of federal programs for the Lafayette Parish Police Jury from 1979 until 1984, when parish government was formed and he became the first and only person to serve as clerk of the Lafayette Parish Council. After consolidation of city and parish governments in 1996, he took over as clerk of the Lafayette City-Parish Council, retiring in 2001. Within six months Rochon says he was antsy and wanted to be back at work. He immediately accepted a newly created position with the city of Carencro administration, a post he plans to keep if elected. In 2007 Rochon sought an opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General that cleared him to keep his job if he were elected to the council.

Rochon is a charter member of the St. Anthony’s Knights of Peter Claver and a past state president of the local organization of black Catholic men. He also received the Martin Luther King Jr. award from the Diocese of Lafayette in 1992.

Whether having an opponent in the campaign will force Shelvin to answer troubling questions about his judgment, ethics and truthfulness remains to be seen. Read the long, sordid history of the first-term District 3 councilman’s manipulation of the residency requirement for seeking the District 3 seat in 2007, abuse of his council seat, theft of extended warranty money from local residents who purchased used vehicles from him, and his ongoing legal woes at www.theind.com. Just type Brandon Shelvin in the search engine.

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