The three mayoral candidates vying for the city’s top office, which will be vacated when Mayor Jim Petitjean occupies his newly-elected position as the parish’s assessor, Roland Boudreaux, Cheryl Richard and Chuck Robichaux.
The public foum, co-sponsored by the city’s two newspapers, the Rayne Acadian-Tribune and the Rayne Independent, consisted of questions submitted by the general public as presented by the evening’s moderator, Jay Suire of Crowley.
Each candidate opened the forum with four-minute opening statements, followed by six total questions presented . Each candidate received two of the six questions for a two-minute response, in addition to one-minute rebuttals by the remaining two candidates.
The first opening statement was heard from candidate Chuck Robichaux, who commented on his business background and work ethics he derived from his parents, the late Charles and Gladys Broussard Robichaux.
“Like my parents,” Robichaux stated, “I love Rayne and hope to bring my business background to the front office to continue to have this city grow and prosper. So far, we have good city plans. With my leadership as mayor, we can grow this city and fill the ills we still see.”
Robichaux continued, “I’m the only candidate with a plan to improve our city,” as he held up a rolled city map showing his ideas. “We can bring this city to light and I have the experience and ideas to do it.”
Richard was the next candidate to present her opening statement of the evening, noting her service both locally and on the parish level.
“I have a background of service to this city for the past 12 years,” commented Richard on her role as Rayne’s cultural director and current service as president of the Acadia Parish Tourist Commission.
Richard continued, “I will continue to pursue a positive change for our city and realize the importance, not only for Rayne, but for Acadia Parish with positive effects for our city.”
Richard also submitted her plans to revitalize the downtown area by atracting businesses, in addition to help lower utility rates, improve city parks, and expand community projects.
Boudreaux was the last of the candidates to present his opening statement, noting his experience as a long-time Rayne buisnessman.
“There’s a number of opportunities and improvements this city can acquire under my leadership,” began Boudreaux. “From infrastructire improvements to lowering utilities, I can help improve our community.”
“I will search for the best, possible energy rates for households, secure grants for city projects for our neighborhoods, and correct the many drainage problems our citizens endure.”
Boudreaux concluded, “Not only will I seek additional business opportunities for Rayne, I will push for subdivision development as it is needed for our city to flourish.”
During the question portion of the forum, Robichaux received the first question, “What is the greatest asset of Rayne and how do you plan to develop it?”
Robichaux’s response was given in two parts. First he exphasized the city’s employees, noting the great staff the city has from mayor on down.
“Just like we have great people who live in our community, we have great people who work for our city,” Robichaux answered. “Secondly, I have a proposal for a new business development just south of I-10 were we can develop rural land to improve our business community. This will not only help employ our local citizens, but improve our business community.”
In Richard’s rebuttal, she believes the city’s greatest asset is its citizens, families who choose to live here.
Boudreaux agreed with his counterparts, but noted that improvements are needed with the city’s utility system and services which benefits everyone.
The evening’s second question was directed to Richard, “What is the specific quality or trait that distinguishes you from the other candidates?”
“With my experience with the city administration over the past 12 years,” Richard answered, “I know heart is here for everyone -- I’m truly invested in my community. With my experience as an employee and with disaster recovery, I’m truly invested.
Robichaux’s rebuttal, “As I have done for the past 28 years in business and construction, I know we have to think out of the box for the betterment of Rayne.”
“When it comes to business,” rebutted Boudreaux, “I’m serious at what I do. I have served not only Rayne, but the parish for many years. I have a good service record on providing what is needed while diverting my salary for scholarships and donations to schools and organizations. And remember, I will always tell you the truth; you might not like it, but it will be the truth.”
“What has been the most frequently asked question from voters during the campaign” was the next question asked the candidates, first directed to Boudreaux.
“I’ve heard very simple requests while campaigning, including but not limited to drainage, utility rates and usage of city vehicles for non work-related, private use,” stated Boudreaux. I can make adjustments to all these suggestions, and make improvements to many more for the good of Rayne.”
Richard has heard questions concerning family needs, recreation department improvements, and what can the city offer for family-related events. “I have seen what our city needs for our families, and have offered through my office programs for children,” Richard stated.
Robichaux has also heard the same questions as his opponents, in addition to how he will continue to improve what the previous administration has accomplished. “We have been blessed with great leadership and foresight of this administraion for the past 20 years,” Robichaux stated. “But, under my leadership, we can grow business and provide opportunities for our local citizens right here in our backyard.”
The fourth question, “What cost-saving measures are you planning if elected as mayor?” was directed to Robichaux. “As a city, it is a business and has to be run as one,” Robichaux responded. “With my business experience, it will run as one. I’m a cost-conscious person and believe I can provided the right service and the right price for the services provided for our city.”
Boudreaux’s rebuttal included his experience as a business leader, noting the importance of department inventory and to help employees plan and organize their departments. “I can help our employees to work smarter, not harder,” he noted.
Richard emphasized more safety and instructional training for employees to improve performance and limit accidents which will lower insurance premiums. She also saw opportunity to look into accounting software for the city to improve financial output.
The fifth question of the evening, instructed to Richard, was, “What do you think is the biggest concern facing our city and what can you do to fix it?”
Richard noted the disconnect between the neighborhoods and the city, including sidewalks, drainage and improvement projects. “I see neighborhoods feeling they are not heard when it comes to improvements they want, and I understand,” Richard stated. “Communication between citizens and its representatives and city hall will be an open channel, with their concerns heard. In addition to improving our neighborhoods, the depleted downtown area should and can be revitalized by extablishing businesses in existing buildings -- an investment in our city by new and existing businesses.”
Boudreaux biggest concern was the migration of citizens leaving our city for opportunities in other cities. “If we keep out people here and employed within our business community,” Boudreaux stated, “It improves our entire city not only for the business, but will also affect our tax base and sales taxes -- bringing in more revenue into he city budget to pay for additional projects to its citizens.”
The business community was also a concern for Robichaux’s rebuttal, noting the slight loss of core businesses in the city during the last 20 years. “We have seen a lot of good during the last administration, but with my plan, we can increase opportunities for everyone. I’m the only candidate here that can show you my vision, my plan for a business boost that our city needs.”
The last question of the evening, “In your opinion, what is the role of local govenment?” was directed to Boudreaux who presented a number of services the city provides for its citizens. “The city provides infrastructure on every level in the city -- this should and will be established under my leadership,” Boudreaux stated.
He also touched on the utility systems the city provides for its citizens. “We have to make our utility rates compatible not only for our citizens, but to entice incoming businesses to build and move here.” On that note, Boudreaux also made available his plans to advertise Rayne in whatever avenue possible to demonstrate what Rayne has to offer. “We have I-10, a great adverising tool, and we need to use it,” Boudreaux added.
During Robichaux’s final rebuttal of the evening, he cited that thus far, Rayne has taken advantage of the I-10 exchange, but added that his plan for a business center just south of I-10 can benefit the city. “Rayne has to continue on the path provided by this administration,” Robichaux added, “But, we have to adjust for forward progress.”
Richard’s rebuttal not only delt with the city’s infrastructure, but to include everyone, combine their efforts, and work together to make improvements for every citizen. “I’ve worked with the city for the past 12 years, I’ve seen and heard what families need and want,” Richard added. “Together, the administration and its citizens can make an impact on the future of Rayne.”
The evening concluded with a three-minute closing statement by each of the candidates.
As time was his demon in his opening statement, Boudreaux concluded his evening with plans he has the city if elected its mayor. “We need to make our park and recreation program a year-round program to include all wanting young people who want to participate,” stated Boudreaux. On that note, he also insisted on the refurbishing of the city’s parks at all locations. “In addition to parks, we need to update our centers for our citizens to utilize as needed.”
Boudreaux continued, “I plan to continue working with legislators to complete work on the anticipated I-10 project to include a waterpark and business center. This will help tremendously with not only Rayne’s economic development, but the entire area.”
Boudreaux concluded with his commitment to actively solicit businesses into Rayne. “We have many openings for businesses and we need to welcome those businesses wanting to locate within the city. I will do my best to get those businesses here and help the community. Whether serving the past 17 years as a School Board member or a part of the business community here, I hope to bring my experience to raye as its new mayor.”
Robichaux’s closing comments concentrated on progress for the city. “A message to parents, I plan to take care of our children and parks for them,” he stated. “Under my leadership, we will continue city updates and bring in real businesses that bring prosperity - we can’t gamble on our community.”
Robichaux continued, “I’m commited to all the citizens of this city and plan to keep it a good place to live and work. We can’t go backwards, we have to look forward with real progress for our city’s future.”
Richard concluded the closing statements by referencing her experience with local government and inclusion with area/parish projects.
“I bring to the city a positive attitude and an aggressive business development plan,” stated Richard. “I’ve listened to everyone while campaigning. To that, I have both a short and long-term plan for our business community to grow and prosper. With my business experience and the management skills, I know I can lead this great city.”
Richard concluded with a reference to the community’s involvement. “We can empower our neighborhoods for advancement, encourage our citizens to choose a direct path for the city’s advancement, and elect me to provide the leadership it takes to make positive changes for the good of the city.”
Moderator Jay Suire thanked everyone for attending, in addition to the two local newspapers for hosting the forum. He also acknowledge all three candidates for caring enough for their city to run for its senior office.