Lopez apologizes to constituents for arrest

Councilwoman Natalie Lopez speaks about her recent arrest at Tuesday’s New Iberia City Council meeting.

New Iberia City Councilwoman Natalie Lopez addressed her recent DWI arrest at Tuesday night’s brief City Council meeting, apologizing to her constituents and asking for prayers.

Lopez was arrested this past weekend and charged with driving while intoxicated-child endangerment, (failure to maintain) proper control of vehicle, (failure to provide proof of) renewal of registration and resisting an officer. Records showed a $2,500 bond for the DWI charge.

The meeting Tuesday was the first time Lopez had addressed the incident in full, and at the end of the meeting she took the time to speak to her District 1 constituents.

“First and foremost, I would like to apologize to the constituents of District 1,” Lopez said. “Since getting elected in 2011 a lot has happened in my life, and while part of me thinks my personal life is my business, another part of me knows when I signed up to run for office I was accepting that my life now has the possibility of being put under a microscope.”

Lopez said the past year has been traumatic for her and her family, and dealing with those issues has been taxing for her.

She said some of those issues included her father being involved in a car crash, and in the following months saying “very hurtful things to me.”

Lopez said that her father had been physically, verbally and mentally abusive toward her since she was 11, and that she had to file a restraining order against him last fall.

“Shortly after that I found out he was dying of cancer,” Lopez said. “My mom died when I was 10 years old.”

More recently, Lopez said an incident with her father led to an incident that was extremely traumatic for her.

“I have been through a lot in my life but the recent events have been extremely traumatic, and on Friday night I chose to deal with my emotions in a way that led to me making a bad decision,” she said.

“I have never been arrested before and I am extremely humiliated. But this has woken me up and made me realize that I cannot suppress what is going on in my life anymore. These are not excuses, this is just my story.”

The councilwoman said she had the necessary resources to help with her trauma, and will be pursuing them.

“I am truly sorry for letting my constituents down,” Lopez said. “For years I worked in the criminal justice system where 90 percent of what I did was help people who got in trouble.

“I did that job with so much pride and passion and I did it because I believe in second chances, I believe people can change, I believe in not judging others and I believe that sometimes bad circumstances lead to bad decisions. I am determined to grow from this situation and become a better person.

“I ask that if you have it in your hearts to please pray for me and my family.”

In other business, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to amend the duties for a combination building inspector. Inspector Jimmy Landry said the ordinance would consolidate duties for the inspectors that are hired.

The council also unanimously approved a certificate of substantial completion for wastewater treatment plant system upgrades.

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