Feature photo: Photos provided by candidates.
Following the suspension and recent disqualification of former Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope, four candidates are competing for the open position in the upcoming Nov. 3 election.
City marshals are responsible for executive orders under the Lafayette City Court, as well as assistance to the city court in hearings, subpoenas, evictions and warrants. For this election, voters will have four candidate choices, each with at least 30 years of extensive experience in law enforcement and with the city of Lafayette.
On the ballot for Lafayette City Marshal are Republican candidates Nathan Broussard and Kip Judice, “no party” candidate Reggie Thomas, and Democratic candidate John Trahan Jr.
For Nathan Broussard, along with his 20 years of experience with the marshal’s office, a motivating factor in the election has been his “goal to restore the integrity in the image of the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office that the community once had.”
Broussard said that giving back to the community and introducing technology to the department are among the plans he’d like to implement, if elected. This would include reminding citizens of their court dates, as well as providing positive identification for those going through the system, according to Broussard.
Having worked in law enforcement for 32 years on various levels, Broussard said he understands the day-to-day operations of the marshal’s office.
“Lafayette has four qualified candidates with over 126 years of law enforcement experience to the community. The community desires to have the best qualified person that knows the Marshal’s day-to-day duties and can walk in tomorrow knowing what to do and how to do it,” said Broussard. “It’s about doing the right thing.”
Kip Judice, current full-time police chief for the town of Duson, said he primarily wants voters to be aware of his experience and his records. Having worked for 35 years in law enforcement Judice said he has an understanding of the role of city marshal.
“I’ve looked at a lot of agencies and I think that the city marshal’s office is in need of someone to come [in] there with a management style that is both compassionate and firm, with some good ideas,” said Judice, “and I think I have those.”
Judice, a former candidate in the 2014 city marshal election for the city of Lafayette, said his goal is to build trust back into the community.
According to Judice, his biggest goal includes reducing the amount of “no shows” for court dates, which are usually in the case of minor offenses. Judice said he thinks there are two main reasons for “no shows:” forgetting, and fear of incarceration.
“I think we need to educate people to have them understand that the judges in Lafayette city court rarely send those people to jail for [a] misdemeanor and traffic offenses,” said Judice. “Judges do give payment plans and they do give other options, you just need to show up.”
Judice said he plans to implement ideas such as text alerts to remind citizens of upcoming court dates, as well as the option of an “instanter warrant,” which would allow the judge to issue a sentence with lesser probability of court involvement and incarceration.
“I really feel for the people that I have seen incarcerated for two or three days because they were speeding or because they had a very minor offense. Now they lose their job, then they can’t pay the fine, and we get a vicious cycle,” said Judice.
Judice also plans to implement an “open door policy,” in more than one aspect. According to Judice, he believes there should be transparency with funding, which would allow for an “open checkbook.” This would give citizens the opportunity to view funding information without the need for a request, Judice said. He also said he also wants citizens to know that when they contact the office, they will get a call back.
“I think it’s critical, I think people want to know who their marshal is, who their elected official is,” said Judice.
Reggie Thomas, the election’s only “no party” candidate, is running with 30 years of law enforcement experience in various sectors of the police department, and has “worked side by side with city marshals” throughout his career.
According to Thomas, leading 289 sworn officers in his last four years as interim Chief of Police for the city of Lafayette is experience that has taught him what hard work is about.
“I understand every aspect of police work,” said Thomas. “I had a lot of opportunity to work in different areas because my agency is very large.”
Although currently retired, Thomas said he wants voters to look at his experience, education and commitment to the community. One of Thomas’s largest points in his campaign is to bring back accreditation, which he said is something he thinks was lost in the last administration.
Thomas also said his campaign wants to focus on training and community relations, two additional fields of experience that he accredits to his decades of law enforcement experience.
Another level of experience that Thomas wants to implement is diversity work, he said. Having held community walks as Lafayette Chief of Police, Thomas said he believes that communication is the key to it all.
“We need to be able to communicate with the community and help the community and the police department and law enforcement [be] on the same page,” said Thomas.
Along with general training with the Lafayette Police Department, Thomas said he wants to incorporate the concept of community relations to the city marshal’s office. The biggest issue that Thomas believes, he said, is people not showing up for court dates. For Thomas, informing and educating the community on options is part of the process.
“I think if you educate and inform people that if you don’t have the money for the fines or whatever the case may be… We can work with you or reschedule and we can work on different programs,” said Thomas. “We can help people.”
If elected, Thomas said he wants to continue to work hard in doing things for the community, such as raising money, providing scholarships and working to implement a junior marshal program that would allow the agency to work with kids.
Running as “no party,” Thomas also said he wants voters to focus on his qualifications rather than voting by party association.
“Compare me, do your homework, educate yourself, inform yourself [of] who has the most to offer,” said Thomas. “Let the work I’ve done speak for me.”
John Trahan Jr.
John Trahan Jr., a small business owner, is running for city marshal with over 32 years of law experience, six of those years being with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and 26 with the Louisiana State Police.
As stated on his website, Trahan is focused on being a “bridge for the community.” According to Trahan, communication and willingness to adapt are key components of his campaign, and requires an open minded approach. In his “T.A.C.T.” campaign, Trahan plans to implement qualities such as “Transparency,” “Actionable,” “Committed,” and “Trustworthy,” according to his website. It’s these qualities that Trahan said he believes will bring back a level of respect.
Following his T.A.C.T. campaign, Trahan said that transparency within the marshal’s office is something he’d like to address by implementing text alerts to citizens to reduce missed court dates, similar to his running mates. According to Trahan, this would also provide documentation of notice for the city marshal’s office. Still heavily focused on communication, Trahan also said that communication and networking should be more approachable and transparent.
“Those are the things that I live by, [that] I was raised by. I think those are the things that the marshal’s office needs so that our people can start trusting our police again,” said Trahan.
“Imagine sitting in your own home and nobody’s talking…[and] sometimes I feel the city’s like that, nobody communicating,” Trahan said. “It never used to be like that.”
Diversity training is also something Trahan said he would be open to providing, as “we all communicate differently.”
“Networking is key when it comes to giving a product back to the citizen, which they pay for,” said Trahan. “You have to adapt to the different information you have coming to you and put that out and have discussion, have open and candid discussion about how we’re [going to] handle these things.”
Trahan also mentioned that he wants to help the community with the negative connotation around the city court. Trahan said he encourages the community to ask questions and visit their city marshal’s office to become more informed.
Along with his law enforcement experience, Trahan would also like voters to recognize his time spent in the community and public service arena.
“When it comes to the marshal’s office we have to have that commitment to public serving,” Trahan said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s rain, doesn’t matter if it’s snow [or] hurricane weather, you get there and you do what you have to do according to the scope of your job and that’s commitment.”
Voters can find more information on each candidate via campaign websites or Facebook before Nov. 3. Click on a candidate to be redirected to their campaign website.