Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Months away from the fall contest, a campaign in north Lafayette is already getting ugly. By Walter Pierce
If politics really is a contact sport, it’s boxing. And three and a half months out from the October election, the gloves are already coming off in District 44.
A couple of weeks ago Vincent Pierre, a 47-year-old Lafayette businessman, announced his intention to seek the seat held by first-term Rep. Rickey Hardy, a former school board member. Before Hardy won the seat in a runoff four years ago, it was held by Wilfred Pierre, Vincent’s uncle. A longtime former Lafayette city councilman, Wilfred Pierre held the state House seat for 16 years, or four terms, beginning in 1992.
Literally within minutes of posting a workaday story at theind.com on Monday of last week announcing the younger Pierre’s candidacy, the comment section started overflowing with vitriol, beginning with some pretty serious accusations against Pierre involving his family, his past employment and his relationship to his uncle and a certain imbroglio involving a grant-supported program Wilfred Pierre operated in Lafayette. I’m disinclined to repeat those accusations here because, as I write this on a holiday-shortened week, we’re still trying to ascertain whether there’s any truth to them.
Vincent Pierre had an opportunity, however, to clear this up with me on Friday morning but he balked. He has not yet demanded — or asked or pleaded — that we remove those comments from our website.
This fracas between Hardy and Pierre — or more properly between their supporters — goes much deeper than this fall’s election; it springs from a fissure in Lafayette’s black community, especially its leadership. On the one side you have former City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams, whom Hardy defeated in that November 2007 runoff to replace Wilfred Pierre. Williams, of course, was a key player in the fiasco that was the Lafayette Housing Authority, which Hardy helped expose. Williams, it can be fairly said, is part of an old-school political persuasion that assumes an “us against them” posture — “them” being the white political structure in Lafayette. He played this up famously in the fight over renaming Willow Street in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s honor several years ago, resorting to sophomoric acts of graffiti in the council auditorium.
On the other side there’s Hardy, whose campaign slogan in 2007, “The Man for All the People,” at once underscored his willingness to reach across the racial aisle and highlighted Williams’ confrontational style.
Overall, District 44 is 66 percent black. Hardy won that runoff against Williams with 57 percent of the vote, but he captured 77 percent of the vote in the seven precincts with the heaviest majority of white voters. In the 11 precincts that are predominately black, Williams, who in the weeks leading into the runoff picked up the endorsement of not only the also-rans in the primary but the outgoing Pierre as well, won 57 to 43. Hardy, meanwhile, was endorsed by several members of Lafayette’s legislative delegation, most of them white, as well as City-Parish President Joey Durel, whose battles with then-Councilman Williams were legend. Joey Durel will not win the “District 44 Man of the Year” award. Not this year. Not ever. His endorsement of Hardy in 2007 could have been an albatross, but it most certainly helped Hardy capture that sizable majority of the white vote, which was likely the factor that figured most importantly in his victory over Williams.
We can assume that Hardy will again be endorsed by all the rich whiteys in Lafayette as the election draws closer.
Consequently, and especially after Hardy helped topple the definitely dysfunctional and possibly criminal LHA, bringing down Williams with it, the former school board member and now state rep has been slapped with the “Uncle Tom” label. It’s unfair and unfortunate, but, as they say, it is what it is.
Can this race get uglier? Yes.
Will it? The columnist in me, for whom political bickering is manna from heaven, says, “I hope so.”
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
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.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
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.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
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.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
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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.
IND Style does Gabriel
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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.
Saluting the red, white and blue — let freedom ring
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Feel the spectrum
Unless you work for an energy company, specific decisions related to the economics, risk, etc. are not conveyed to the public. They are a closely guarded secret.
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.
Lafayette native screenwriter returns