If there was any doubt that the political season was in full swing, it was shattered Monday night.
Three separate groups held forums and meet and greets for candidates in Iberia Parish races, with residents focusing on the needs of their respective areas.
At Daspit Elementary School, the Acadian Acres Crime Watch held its final scheduled Meet and Greet for candidates, drawing 23 contenders from across the parish, including all six candidates for Iberia Parish Sheriff, two of the three candidates for Iberia Parish President, both Iberia Parish Clerk of Court candidates and numerous hopefuls for various council districts, New Iberia Marshal and state legislative districts.
The public, however, was in short supply. According to organizer Brooke Scialfo Marcotte, the members of their group generally take part in the proceedings virtually.
“That’s the thing with my neighborhood,” Marcotte said. “We do Facebook live and they watch it all online.”
Marcotte said that some of the side conversations during the event focused on issues that residents were seeking help with.
“One thing that came up was drainage,” Marcotte said. “A couple of people pulled the parish council candidates aside to ask how they planned sto help with that. When the rain comes down hard and fast in our area, it has nowhere to go.”
She also said the general consensus was that the sheriff’s race would be close.
“There were people talking about how we have so many good sheriff candidates,” Marcotte said. “It’s great to have a choice.”
Across town at the West End Park Community Center a second gathering, this one specifically for those candidates for sheriff, was just getting underway as the Acadian Acres event hit mid-stride. The six candidates faced questions from a panel of four community members along with questions from audience members.
The Iberia Ministerial Alliance and A New Chapter PUSH sponsored the forum so area residents could learn more about the people seeking to be the parish’s senior law enforcement official.
“This neighborhood has taken a lot of hardship over the last eight years,” said Rev. James Broussard, one of the event organizers. “People here are struggling to keep their neighborhood safe. We’ve suffered things, like the death of Victor White III, a lack of patrols and a lack of leadership.”
Broussard said he has seen an improvement on the streets since the New Iberia Police Department came online last summer, but the role of the sheriff is still important to West End residents.
“We got to make sure the right person is in that seat,” Broussard said. “It’s not just about one area. It’s about who is best for the whole parish.”
The third event Monday night, at North Lewis Elementary School, drew a few residents but, like the Acadian Acres event, had more politicians than members of the public at large in attendance.
“I’m here just for general information,” said Wayne Domingue, a resident of Iberia Parish Council District 8. “I want to hear what the candidates have to say.”
One resident who did not want to be quoted said that the sheer number of sheriff’s candidates made it difficult to make a choice. But other concerns raised in the two earlier events that evening — like drainage and crime — did not seem to be at the forefront.
Early voting for the Oct. 12 election begins on Sept. 28 and continues until Oct. 5, with the exception of Sept. 29.