In a little more than a month voters will decide who will lead them at many different levels of government. In Cameron Parish, long time Sheriff Theos Duhon is retiring and seven candidates vying for that position. They took part in a forum last night organized by concerned citizens.
The candidates for sheriff had a chance to tell their ideas and concerns and why they should be sheriff. Danny Lavergne is chief civil deputy at the sheriff's department. Charles Precht is a police juror, farmer and cattleman. Wendell Wilkerson is a Cameron businessman. Milton Collins is a long time patrol deputy. Jerry Nunez is a businessman, and former sheriff's deputy. Ron Johnson is current chief deputy and Pete Picou is best known for being long time civil defense director.
Over two hours they were asked many questions on many issues. Drugs seem to be a big issue. Said Picou on that issue, "When elected your sheriff there will not be a single drug left in this parish if they have this much drugs or they have this much drugs. We're going to arrest every one." Nunez told the crowd, "Going around the parish and visiting I've seen certain signs of drugs in their homes and at the time I couldn't do anything about it so I wrote their names down and I have it in a book that I have safe. And once I'm elected sheriff I'll come back and visit them again."
Accessibility to the sheriff is another issue which Wilkerson addressed. "There have been a few complaints about maybe not being able to get in touch with someone over there and that's arm chair quarter backing because I really don't know. I've never had trouble. If I'm elected sheriff I guarantee you'll be able to have full access to me."
And there's department morale and pay seem to be big issues. Said Precht, "As long as you can sit there and make sure that your employees know what they need to do, be more involved with the community, do a pay structure that lets them know where they're going to be at a certain day, bring their morale up."
Collins says, "Put some of that money back into, number one, maybe salary increases for people who haven't had a raise in a long time and also into the drug program where maybe we can get some motivational speakers to come and address some of the children."
Johnson too wants money for salaries. "We would like to have some funding that would help supplement some of the deputies' pay."
And re-entry after a hurricane is a hot topic. "I don't care if all you have, you can go pitch a tent on the land. That's great with me, I'm behind you. But you've got to be watching your stuff and you got to be helping us watch too." Lavergne says safety is key. "It's a unified decision with all the entities once the assessment is done. The number one goal is to protect life. Life is more important than property. After we think life would be secured or safe to enter we go forth."
With seven in the race the October 22 election is likely to decide which two will face each other in a November runoff. For a list of the candidates for Cameron sheriff and others who will be on the ballot click here.