Lafayette’s Black Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a forum for candidates in House District 44 and Senate District 24 Wednesday evening, but Democratic state Rep. Rickey Hardy says won’t be at the Clifton Chenier Center on Willow Street when his two opponents take questions beginning at 6 p.m.

Hardy tells The Independent neither of his opponents, Democrats Vincent Pierre and Roshell Jones, has ever held public office and that he is running on his record of accomplishments. “What are they going to talk about?” he asks.

Taking a cue from other incumbents who often refuse to address challengers in a public debate — to the disappointment of the public — Hardy maintains his time will be better spent on the campaign trail. He says he also has plans Wednesday to attend the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee’s 5:30 p.m. meeting at the Holidome.

Incumbent Democratic state Sen. Elbert Guillory, who is opposed by Opelousas Mayor Donald Cravins Sr. (Cravins previously held the District 24 seat) and Kelly Scott, could not be reached for comment this morning on whether he will attend. Cravins confirmed his participation to organizers but Scott had not responded to them by this morning. The Senate forum starts at 7 p.m.

Daily World reporter Tina Marie Macias and political activist John Besh will serve as panelists. Former Lafayette Parish School Board Member June Andres is president of the Black Chamber of Commerce and is helping to organize the discussion.

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