In attendance were mayoral candidates Greg Jones and Woody Marceaux as well as city council candidates Laurita Pete, Vernon “Step” Martin, Regina Smith, Clay LeJeune, Rannie Batiste, and Chris Mayfield.
The first question asked candidates to ‘recall one memorable incident “where you got involved in a community service project.”
Mayor Greg Jones recalled a ‘Crowley Clean Up Day’ in which approximately 130 people got involved.
“We targeted many of the neglected areas of Crowley,” he said. “To see so many people in the community get involved was inspiring.”
Ward 3 Division A candidate Chris Mayfield recalled doing some construction on the Welcome House when 90 people from Arkansas came down to lend a hand.
“It was so nice to see so many people work up a sweat for a good cause with no monetary value,” said Mayfield.
His opponent, incumbent Vernon “Step” Martin, mentioned his Step by Step program which helps make it possible for each child to get a fresh start in school. Martin took a shot a Mayfield mentioning that “the last I checked The Welcome House wasn’t in West Crowley.”
“For the last two years God has blessed me through my business,” he said. “I’ve been a server all my life and even if the people of West Crowley want me out I will continue.”
Mayoral candidate Woody Marceaux recalled volunteering at Crowley Christian Care Center.
“Reading one on one with the little first graders was so rewarding,” he said. “And those kids still remember me.”
One of the evening’s lighter moments came when Chargois asked each candidate “if elected would you serve without pay?”
Batiste drew laughter when he said that “if they pay of course I’m going to take it.”
Each of the other candidates said yes with the exception of Laurita Pete who delighted those in attendance by saying “I’d have to think long and hard about it.”
Martin, a supporter of Marceaux who argued with Jones at the city council meeting Tuesday, angrily directed criticism towards Mayor Jones and his policies during several responses. Jones, on the other hand, calmly answered each question posed to him.
On the issue of the MLK center and if it was part of each candidate’s agenda:
Jones said that “it’s very unique. This is the only part of town where there’s a building that functions as a community center. We just redid the restrooms and we’re looking into adding a walking tracking track. We’re looking forward to adding a Boys and Girls Club.”
Martin stated that he disagreed with Jones about having people pay for use of the building.
“I believe that these doors should always be open,” he said. “The mayor wanted to know what was going on here tonight and if it was paid for . . . I want to make sure this building is free for us.”
The issue of a swimming pool in West Crowley was another contentious issue.
“I’d rather have seen a swimming pool built in West Crowley than what they did with the downtown improvements,” said Marceaux. “With the economy the way it is though it will be tough.”
“A swimming pool cost a lot of money to maintain,” said Jones. “The last one had to be removed because the pipes were deteriorating on the inside. It would be nice to have a new pool but we have to be patient in this economy.”
Pete mentioned the importance of swimming lessons for the children of West Crowley.
“If Katrina or Rita had put us under water we would have drowned,” she said. “It is important that we teach our kids to swim.”
There will be more on the forum in our Tuesday edition.