Petitjean sworn in as Acadia Parish Assessor
CROWLEY - Before a packed courtroom filled with his family members, parish and state dignitaries and everyday citizens, James “Jimbo” Petitjean took the oath of Acadia Parish assessor Friday afternoon at the Acadia Parish Courthouse.
Petitjean, who served as the mayor of Rayne for 18 years, was sworn in by Rayne City Judge Jim Cunningham.
Joe Paris, who served as emcee for the ceremony, began the proceedings.
“I was doing some research and Jimbo will be only the seventh assessor in the 125 year history of this parish,” said Paris.
He then called upon Rev. James Proctor who gave the invocation.
“We pray to God to give Jimbo the wisdom and understanding to faithfully represent all the people in this parish,” said Rev. Proctor.
Paris then introduced Judge Cunningham who swore Petitjean in.
After taking the oath with his wife, Lyn at his side, Petitjean spoke to those in attendance.
“I am humbled that everyone here drove through the rain to come here on this special day in the lives of myself and my family,” said Petitjean.
He then thanked Lyn of whom he said “he never would have made it here without her by my side.”
Petitjean was also sure to thank his mother, Evelyn, who was running a bit late.
“We waited for you, mom,” he said to the delight of his family members in attendance.
“When we started this election Lyn and I said ‘win or lose we would learn a lot about the people of this parish’,” said Petitjean. “Now I served Rayne for 18 years and I love my hometown but I’ve always had a fondness for the citizens of Acadia Parish. I want each of them to know that the only thing that can hold them back is themselves.
“Acadia Parish has a railroad, an airport...things that most parishes in Louisiana would love to have. It may seem strange but I want everyone to win.”
Petitjean, who never paused during his speech despite having no notes in front of him, then became emotional as he mentioned “the two people who couldn’t be here,” his brother, Tom, and his father, Tom Petitjean Sr.
“Tom told me one thing that has always stuck with me,” he said. “Never talk down to people because they are a lot smarter than you think. That bit of advice has served me very well throughout my years in office.”
Petitjean’s voice began to crack when he mentioned his father who died 13 days prior to his election.
“My father never stopped campaigning for me,” he said. “He never made it to this day but I believe he is here with us today.
“I believe that the Lord sends us signs. When I was cleaning out my office I found something that fell behind one of the drawers of my desk. It was a tape of my father’s funeral service. Things like that don’t just happen for no reason.
“I believe public service is the price you have to pay for our time on this earth.”
Among those in attendance were District 42 Representative Jack Montoucet, Crowley Mayor Greg Jones, Rayne’s newly elected Rayne Mayor Roland Boudreaux, Crowley Chief of Police K.P. Gibson, Rayne Chief of Police Carroll Stelly, Acadia Parish Clerk of Court Robby Barousse, former District 42 Representative Gil Pinac, Acadia Parish Director of Homeland Preparedness Lee Hebert, Acadia Parish School Board Member Doug LaCombe as well as aldermen and alderwomen from different localities in the parish.
Several members of Petitjean’s family were in attendance as well including Lyn, Evelyn, his brother Joe, his son Pete, and his daughters Elise, Ann and Mariette.
The ceremony was followed by a reception in another room at the courthouse.