Stephen Marcantel and David Reed
Feature photo: Lafayette Parish constable candidates: From left, campaign photographs of Robert “Rob” Darby (Ward 6), Kirk Magnon (Ward 6), Russell Comeaux (Ward 6), Sanford “Butch” Landry (Ward 9) and Chad Comeaux (Ward 9). Images courtesy of Robert Darby, Kirk Magnon, Russell Comeaux, Chad Comeaux and Sandford “Butch” Landry.
While many will walk into the polls with a clear idea of what positions they are voting for, some people will leave the polls perplexed, asking themselves, “what is a constable?”
This often-forgotten position was once a staple in Louisiana government, but over time, faded into obscurity.
“And it’s an old holdover from the old government days, really, from the 1900s,” Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret said.
A constable enforces evictions and minor legal disputes. They work for the justice of the peace who formally makes the decisions. Typically, the justice of the peace issues the rulings the constable enforces, Perret said.
A constable earns around $200 to $250 a month for the position and filing a case with the justice of the peace and the constable is usually cheaper than filing the case in city or district courts, said Perret.
Perret said cities, such as Lafayette, no longer need a constable. However, more rural areas such as Carencro still do, as they are a cost-efficient way to deal with routine legal disputes, such as evictions, according to Perret.
Constables in Lafayette Parish are elected every six years and preside over a ward. There are 10 wards in the parish. Wards 3 and 10 do not have constables because they are under the jurisdiction of the Lafayette City Marshall’s Office, according to the Lafayette Parish Registrar of Voters. Legal disputes in the city of Lafayette are typically handled by the city court instead, according to Perret.
While most constables in Lafayette Parish are running unopposed, multiple candidates in Carencro’s Ward 6 and Youngsville’s Ward 9 are competing to be their region’s next constable.
Ward 6 Constable Candidates
Ward 6, the largest ward in Lafayette Parish encompassing the Carencro area, 6 has two constables instead of one like the rest of the parish’s wards.
Russell Comeaux and Patrick “Pat” Dugas were the constables in Ward 6 for roughly 30 years together, Comeaux said. Now that Dugas retired there is an opening for a newcomer in Ward 6.
The candidates running in Ward 6 are Robert “Rob” Darby and Kirk Magnon. Comeaux is also running again, as incumbents run for reelection every six years.
Darby is the owner of O’Darby’s Pub and Grill and is looking to become a constable to better serve his community.
“I just want to help,” Darby said.
Magnon worked as a farrier – meaning he put horseshoes on horses. He also owns an ice business called Twice the Ice.
Magnon said if he becomes a Ward 6 constable, he plans to hear both sides of every situation and crack down harder on animal abusers where he can.
“I’m against starving animals. I don’t like starving animals,” Magnon said.
Comeaux worked as a black smith and as a starting gate supervisor at Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino. Comeaux also worked in the horseshoe business and even employed Magnon for a time, Magnon said.
Comeaux has served as a constable for Ward 6 for 50 years. He said this would probably be his last term, but he thinks he’s in great shape to run this time around, Comeaux said.
“I would like to have one more term, you know, because I’m healthy, I’m active, I love the job that I do and it’s a six year term, so at the end of this term, if I get in – if I’m fortunate enough to get in – at the end of the term I’m going to be 78-years-old,” Comeaux said. “But I’m looking very forward to another term.”
Comeaux said his time spent as constable of Ward 6 has been immensely rewarding because it gives him an opportunity to help people at no cost.
“I feel like this job has enabled me to help thousands of people,” Comeaux said. “I feel much better if I can help someone at no cost than not helping someone and still getting paid.”
Ward 9 Constable Candidates
In Ward 9, encompassing the Youngsville area, Sanford “Butch” Landry, who has been in office for 29 years, and newcomer Chad Comeaux will be competing for the position.
Chad Comeaux works in the oil and gas industry and has served as a reserve police officer and a volunteer firefighter. While he lacks experience as a constable, he believes his experience as a reserve officer and his dedication to serving his community will give him an advantage over Landry.
“I’ve been a public servant for 30 years, for free. So, I think that’s a testament to my desire to serve people,” Comeaux said.
Landry has been in office for 29 years, and is retired from his job in welding supply sales, according to OnYourBallot.org. He prides himself on attending all but three of the Attorney General’s training conferences during his time as a constable.
Landry said he has a leg up over Chad Comeaux because he has been serving as the constable for Ward 9 for so long.
“I’ve been doing it for 29 and a half years, I guess I should know my job,” Landry said.
Elections in Lafayette Parish will be held on Nov. 3. To find out your polling locations and the candidates running in your area, visit the Geaux Vote website.
To find out what ward you live in, click this link and enter your address.