Each of the five candidates vying for the 3rd Congressional District was given a three minute opening statement, were asked the same two questions and given time for a two-minute closing statement.
Aside from Boustany and Landry the field included Ryan Barrileaux, Jim Stark and Ron Richard. However, it was the duel between Boustany and Landry that drew in a packed house.
“For the last eight years you have given me the privilege of serving the people of southwest Louisiana,” said Boustany in his opening statement. “And I’ve had to work solving several problems. I’ve had to make sure that Hurricane Rita was not a forgotten hurricane. My 30 years of experience in the medical field has given me the expertise to deal with health care and to explain why Obamacare simply won’t work. Our energy policy and the Farm Bill are also primary concerns of the people of Crowley and south Louisiana. We are in the midst of a recession and the debt we have amassed are over the past few years are also a primary concern that we have to take a smart approach to. I stopped a $60 billion tax hike tax on independent oil and gas drilling.
“You can trust me to do the right things.”
Landry spoke next and began by thanking the Crowley Chamber of Commerce and the Gielen’s for hosting the event.
“Tonight you will hear a lot about the issues,” stated Landry. “You will hear a lot from one person on how he single handily did things and you will hear a lot about problems created by Republicans and Democrats that were created by career politicians.
“We are in a debt that was created by people that spent our money like drunken sailors but that’s not fair to the sailors because when they ran out of money they go home,” he continued. “I have worked with Democrats and Republicans and if we work together we can take our country back.”
Next up was Barrileaux who is a native of Lake Charles.
“I’m a Catholic from Lake Charles who, together with my wife, home schools our children,” he said. “I am a pro-life, pro-family fiscal conservative. I oppose Obamacare and I am the only person here who’s candidacy was started by a petition. I am upset about the fact that we can’t solve some of the problems we have but somehow we can afford to spend money on selfish ambitions.”
“Influence is bought and sold in this country and people shouldn’t vote for the guys who take the money.”
Jim Stark, also from Lake Charles, spoke next.
“I live a humble life in Lake Charles and I’m neither liberal or conservative,” he said. “But I have big ideas. I believe that only Congress has the power to create war. I have served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield. We have plenty of issues to be solved and I’m a 100 percent believer in the Constitution.”
Richard spoke next and walked to the podium on the other side of the stage that wasn’t being used by the other four candidates.
“I guess since I’m the only Democrat running in this election I speak from this side,” he said as the audience laughed. “And I guess I’m here to tell you who Ron Richard is and why he jumped into the election at the last minute.”
“I’m an attorney who opened up his own law firm and I have handled cases that range from sexual abuse to car accidents,” said Richard. “On the issue of health care I believe that the Republican plan to alter it is outrageous...same with the Farm Bill. Now I don’t agree with everything the President says. I can’t support gay marriage. I don’t support abortion rights. And I’m the most gun-carrying candidate you’ve ever seen.”
The first question delaHoussaye asked was “What do you feel will be the your greatest challenge in such a diverse district and how will you address that challenge?”
The first to answer was Landry.
“It’s not a challenge,” replied Landry. “I represent a district that has a vast amount of oil and gas, our agricultural industry is as strong and we have a great refining industry. We have offshore oil and gas in the south and fracking to the north. Yet we have a lack of job growth. Mexico’s economy is growing faster than ours. Frankly, we have failed to adhere to what our country was founded on.”
Barrilleaux answered next.
“Our greatest challenge is restoring confidence in our government,” he said. “We have gas and oil but if our representation is being undermined. Our form of government comes from consent of the governed and their lack of confidence is a major problem.”
Stark followed by suggesting that our biggest difficulty is that ‘most politicians are asking for money.’
“We have this debt to China and it has to change,” he said. “I support a Fair Tax that would replace all these different types of taxes with a sales tax. We would see great growth. Companies are flocking overseas.”
Richard was next and switched to the podium that the other candidates were using.
“I just wanted to display my ability to work across the aisle,” he said drawing laughter from the audience.
“I know how many diverse policies we have but I want to see Louisiana’s coastal preservation get underway,” he said. “We don’t need another 20 year study. If we can get things moving on this issue it’s going to protect our economy.”
Boustany was the final candidate to answer.
“This new district is basically the same one I’ve represented for the past eight years,” he said. I’m the only one on this stage that has gotten laws passed. When I took over eight years ago we were divided. We are now a single unit. I’ve passed legislation in this divided country. We are a maritime state and we can promote industry. I want a mother in China to open a box with a product that says ‘Made in China.’
delaHoussaye next asked the candidates about how they would promote the Farm Bill.
“The Farm Bill is one I can’t recite,” said Barrilleaux. “There are just too many issues to address. Congress left their last session early with unfinished business. I suspect they left to keep us in suspense and keep some money.”
Starks started by admitting that he didn’t know much about the Farm Bill.
“But one thing I would like to promote is the use of hemp to create products,” he said. “It is inexpensive and has been used in China since World War II. I know that people associate hemp with marijuana but you can’t make marijuana out of hemp.”
Richard responded next by stating that bipartisanship is hurting the country.
“It’s a shame,” he said. “On September 30th our Farm Bill expires. Rice farmers need protection. If farmers did their job the way Congress did theirs we’ll all starve.”
Boustany gave the final answer.
“Jackie Loewer, Clarence Berken and I helped to write the Farm Bill,” he said. “I worked across the aisle and led the charge to open up the rice market. When we voted for adjournment in July, I voted against it. Mr. Landry voted for it, against something that would help the farmers. Basically, he said ‘punt.’
He was followed by Landry.
“If you just listened to that magic act instead of using sense you’d understand that our farmers deserve better than this lame duck deal,” he said. “Changing school lunch programs and things like that are useless. We need a deal that lets farmers control their own money and not people like Mr. Boustany.”
In their closing statements, both frontrunners took shots at each other.
“Most of you realize that there are too many lawyers in Washington already,” said Boustany. “Many people trust me as a doctor. I’ve produced results but we still have big problems. You need someone who’s going to recognize these problems. We’ve opened up new markets for our farmers and we’re going to to tackle the debt in a sober, smart way by promoting the sale of our product overseas.”
“My opponent talks about results,” said Landry. “If we had results I’d be watching my kids play soccer right now. The failure of both Republicans and Democrats to produce them is upsetting. The only way we can produce them is by working across the aisle.”
Our Sunday edition will feature the Rayne mayorial race’s portion of the candidate’s forum.