by Spencer Urquhart
Democrat Patrick “Pat” Lewis and Republican Mark Pope squared off in a runoff election on Saturday, Nov. 14 for the Lafayette City Council District 1 seat.
Pope led the initial election back in October after receiving 32 percent of the vote, and Lewis was a close second with 31 percent. The two candidates were separated by only 95 votes, and the rest of the votes were spilt between Democrat Matthew Sias, Jr. at 13 percent and Democrats John Ford and Sarah Gauthier Roy at 12 percent.
The runoff election was not as close as expected, as Lewis won by a convincing margin, taking 66 percent of the vote with 4,785 votes compared to 33 percent for Pope with 2,468 votes.
Lewis has served on the City Council the past four years and decided to seek re-election after seeing progress in his district.
“I’ve been a council member for the last four years,” Lewis said. “It motivated me to continue making things happen for this district I represent. There are a lot of things that need to be done, and I want to make sure that I get it done. Reaching out to the community is important, and I always remember that I serve my constituents and will never take that for granted.”
Pope had decided to throw his hat in the ring because he was unhappy with the current City Council’s performance.
“We don’t have good representation right now,” Pope said. “The council members walk into meetings unprepared. We’re dealing with complex issues that require research, facts and intense study. We’re not getting that now from votes coming from the current council.”
Lewis said he feels that the biggest issues facing Lafayette’s District 1 that need to be addressed are drainage and revitalization of the community.
“There are two particular areas dear to my heart where people have had drainage problems,” Lewis said. “I want to make sure these areas get taken care of. My district is an old community, a historical community. There are things in the community that need to be revitalized. These people are in the inner community and deserve the same quality of life like everyone else that pays taxes.”
Pope agreed that the biggest issues facing District 1 in Lafayette are drainage and revitalization. His plans to address them included making sure funding was being used properly in order to attract businesses.
“There are two aspects of being a city council member,” Pope said. “Macro issues, which affect the entire city- drainage, roads and bridges, and bringing proper funding to these services. There are also micro issues that are specific to my city and my city council District 1- the revitalization of District 1, cleaning up and re-instilling pride and ownership to attract businesses and investors to my district.”
Lewis previously served on the City Council for District 3, but with the new District 1 in place, he’ll be taking on some new challenges along with the projects he’s currently working on.
“We’ve had drainage problems with the railroad,” Lewis said. “In July we should start underneath the tracks, the money is there. I’m proud to say it will get taken care of. There was a new area flooding that I wasn’t aware of, we want to do the same thing for that new area. We won’t forget people. Drains need to be cleaned, ditches need to be a little deeper. There are not any big tickets items other than the 50-year one (railroad). We’re going to find the money to get it done. It will cost no more than $500,000 to solve any of these problems.”