THE POST-SIGNAL / Steve Bandy
The Crowley Town Hall Meeting and Candidates’ Forum was held Thursday night at the Martin Luther King Center where candidates for office that will impact West Crowley were introduced and questioned. Taking part in the event were, seated from left, mayoral candidates Emily Stoma, Ezora Proctor, Tim Monceaux, Elliot Doré and Bryan Borill, Rev. Keith Matthews, moderator; standing, second row from left, police chief candidates Dexter Faulk, Jimmy Broussard and Don Alleman; Ward 2, Division B candidates Walter Andrus and Byron K. Wilridge; and Police Jury District 1 candidate Peter J. Joseph; back row, Ward 3, Division 1 Alderman Vernon “Step” Martin, unopposed.
Candidates continue call for unity at West Crowley Town Hall Forum
Candidates for office in Crowley’s Ward 3, which includes a large section of West Crowley, gathered at the Martin Luther King Center Thursday to meet and great constituents and answer questions.
Organizers of the “Your Voice, Your Vote” forum invited candidates for mayor, chief of police, city council and police jury to participate.
All five candidates for mayor — Bryan Borill, Elliot Doré, Tim Monceaux, Ezora Proctor and Emily Stoma — as well as the three candidates for police chief — Don Alleman, Jimmy Broussard and Dexter Faulk — were present. The two candidates for the Ward 3, Division B seat on the city council — Walter Andrus and Byron K. Wilridge — also were present, as was one of the candidates for the District 1 seat on the police jury, Peter J. Joseph.
Gloria Hebert, the incumbent police juror, was not present.
Latikka Magee-Charles was chair of the planning committee and Rev. Keith Matthews served as moderator for the event.
Each candidate was allowed a brief opening statement. The candidates for mayor and police answered questions.
Much like they did at the earlier forum sponsored by the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce, each of the candidates spoke of the need for unity and working together for the betterment of the community.
Each of the mayoral candidates was asked to explain what he or she would do to partner with educational institutions to improve quality of life and income levels in Crowley.
All of them agreed that cooperative endeavors with the Acadia Parish School Board and South Louisiana Community College are imperative to furthering educational standards in the area.
Stoma said she has a “vision to build better relationships with all forms of government” because, “with unity, we improve the city as a whole.”
Proctor reminded the audience of her many years as an educator and her close association with the School Board, teachers and retired teachers.
“We need to forge ahead to fulfill the needs of the community,” she said.
Monceaux said he would work to bring more businesses into Crowley, “such as manufacturing,” so that more people are employed.
Doré said he would like to “open lines of communication with the large manufacturing employers” already located in Crowley,” adding, “We have to get out of our own town and promote our town.”
Borill acknowledged that the area’s biggest problem in the area of economic development “is the lack of an educated workforce — we need courses that will educate people to work in certain jobs.”
He noted that, with the opening of Rice Capitol Parkway, “we now have property for expansion of new businesses in Crowley.”
Each candidate also was asked one question drawn at random.
• Borill was asked what step he would take in developing youth workforce training.
“I would work with the School Board and the community college to make sure we have the courses needed for our youth,” he said, adding that he’d also like to see a return of the half-day work schedule for high school students.
• Doré was asked what he, as mayor, would do to deter the rise in violent crime.
Pointing out that Crowley has an elected police chief, Doré noted, “We, as a council, set the budget for the police department. I think it’s the mayor’s job to ‘massage’ the budget to find sufficient funds for the police and fire departments” while working together to find grants.
• Monceaux was asked if he thought “being morally sound of character” is an important attribute for public office.
Monceaux said that, with the number of decisions that have to be made and the long hours that have to be worked, “you have to believe in God and put God first in making all decisions.”
• Proctor was asked what she considered to be the single critical challenge facing the new mayor.
“I wish I could narrow it to one challenge,” she said. “But, first, I think we need to clean up Crowley of all the litter and blight.”
She noted that, during an earlier administration, she had helped organize city-wide clean-up campaigns, adding, “We have an agenda and it starts with clean up where you are planted.”
• Stoma was asked if she had attended any Martin Luther King Day celebrations at the Center and what other contributions she had made to West Crowley.
Stoma replied that she had not personally attended any of the celebrations at the MLK Center, explaining, “I celebrate my birthday with Martin Luther King so I celebrate with my family.”
She said she has worked for 18 years as a volunteer at the Crowley Christian Care Center and has “personally reached out and helped people just because I felt they needed it and I wanted to help.”
Each of the candidates presented a closing statement.
Chief of Police
The format for the police chief candidates was the same as that for the mayoral hopefuls: opening statement, one question for all, one individual “random” question, closing statement.
In their opening statements, each of the candidates gave brief personal backgrounds then focused on the need for community involvement in solving crimes.
The question they were asked to answer as a group involved community policing and their individual goals to “enhance much-needed relationships in the community.”
Alleman said community policing was in place when he previously served as chief here. “We had federal funding for it, then that funding went away,” he said.
“Our officers have to get out of their cars and talk to citizens,” Alleman continued, “It’s not a funding issue, we have officers on the street now.”
He added that more cooperation with churches in and around the city would be of enormous help to the department.
Broussard said he has seen a resurgence of community policing during his two years in office.
“I’m glad people are speaking with us,” he said. “There was a time when they weren’t.”
He pointed out that the last two shooting incidents in Crowley were solved within 48 hours thanks to community support.
Faulk said most of his previous 18 years of experience with the Crowley Police Department involved community policing.
“Yes, community policing is here, but it can be expanded upon, he said, explaining that he would like to see officers visit with students — as young as kindergarten and pre-k — to develop relationships there.
“We have to start while they’re young,” he said.
For the randomly drawn questions:
• Faulk was asked what steps he would take to ensure safety for all, including tourists to the city.
“It all goes back to community policing,” he answered. “If visitors see that interaction of residents with police, they will feel safe.”
He added that the department needs the cooperation of business owners in preventing loitering and littering in parking lots.
“We need their permission to go onto their property and ask people to move along,” he explained.
• Broussard was asked how he would address the increase in violent crime and who he feel is responsible for such.
Broussard said the surge in violent crime in Crowley “is no more than in any other community in our area,” pointing to reports coming out of places like New Iberia, Lafayette and even Rayne.
He pointed to a lack of education, lack of opportunity and lack of contact between police and young people as the major cause in the uptick.
“We have a depressed economy and our young people have nothing to do,” he said. “They need to learn that every choice has a consequence. If we show children that they can be better, that’s the way we can deter crime.”
• Alleman was asked what he could do to ensure citizens that, when they report a crime, their name will not be leaked to the public.
“That’s no good,” Alleman said. “We have to make sure that when an informant says ‘anonymous’ that it remains anonymous.”
He said officers can be held criminally liable in such cases and promised that any officer found guilty of such action would “be disciplined accordingly.”
In their closing statements, each of the candidates admitted that they have all agreed to work together regardless of who wins.
Ward 3, Division B
Each of the candidates for the Ward 3, Division B seat on the Crowley City Council were given two minutes to introduce themselves and give a brief outline of their platform.
Walter Andrus explained that he is a lifelong resident of Crowley and served as a lieutenant communications officer in the U.S. Navy.
He went on to outline the many civic projects he has been involved in, especially in the West Crowley area, including improvements at MLK Park and his work as president of the local NAACP chapter.
“If I’m elected, I won’t wait until January 1 to start work, I’ll be on the job on November 7,” he concluded.
Wilridge also noted that he was born and raised in Crowley and educated in the Crowley public school system.
He said he returned to his home city after 22 years in the military and noticed “the community had changed, and not for the good.
“With my military background I knew I had to take a stand and work to change our community,” he said.
Joseph is running to complete the unexpired term of the late Danny Hebert as the District 1 representative on the Acadia Parish Police Jury.
A retired police officer and current pastor, Joseph said he believes “in working together to get the job done.
“This job is not about one person, it’s about the people we serve. Nothing will change unless we change it.”
Thursday night’s forum was sponsored by the West Crowley Advisory Committee, the Crowley Branch of the National Association of University Women, the Crowley Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Acadia Parish Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Acadia Parish Ministerial Alliance and a number of West Crowley churches.