James J. Petitjean became the seventh assessor in the 125 years since Acadia Parish was created as he repeated his oath of office administered by Rayne City Judge Jim Cunningham.
As Petitjean raised his right hand, his wife, Lyn, lovingly clasped his left hand.
The 2 p.m. ceremony was held before a standing room only audience in the third floor courtroom of the Acadia Parish Courthouse.
Rev. Dr. James Proctor, at Petitjean’s request, offered the opening prayer in which he asked God to give Petitjean “wisdom to make wise and just decisions.”
Master of Ceremonies Joe Paris shared stories about Petitjean who served 12 years as recreation director before serving as mayor for the past 18 years.
He recounted how Petitjean as recreation director assisted in hosting a summer baseball tournament to benefit Paris’ high school.
When the committee raised concerns about perceived obstacles, Paris said Petitjean responded, “Any mess you can make, I can clean up.”
Of the new assessor, Paris said Petitjean will be a “quick study because Jim knows you.”
During his remarks, Petitjean talked about his late brother, Dr. Tom Petitjean, describing him as an orator. “Tom had a profound effect on me,” as he referred to his brother’s advice to him: “Don’t even talk down to people.”
Noting his father, Tommy died 13 days before his election, Petitjean spoke about how his father was telling him what to do while hospitalized.
Talking about his last day as Rayne’s mayor as he cleaned out his office, Petitjean recounted how he discovered a videotape of his father’s funeral wedged behind a desk drawer and take the discovery as “a sign from God, a higher power.”
He also took time to thank his predecessor Ralph Stutes, Judge Cunningham, Tom Ed McHugh, LMA executive director and other city and parish officials in attendance. He also introduced Jeff Bourgeois as the new chief deputy parish assessor.
“I hope I make you proud,” he said, as he assumed his new elective office. “I have always had a fondness of the people of this parish” because “they absolutely care for one another.”
Petitjean promised he would foster a great sense of cooperative spirit, explaining, “I want everybody to win and share the wealth.”
The ceremony was followed by a reception held across the hall in the Police Jury meeting room.