LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Early voting for the March 20th election starts this weekend, and one of the big items on the ticket is the race for Lake Charles Mayor.
Nic Hunter is up for re-election, and this week, we’re sitting down with the mayor and the three candidates vying to unseat him.
Josh Lewis, Sean Ardoin and Jesse Bernard have all thrown their hats into the race and believe they’re the change the office needs. Monday, we spoke to Sean Ardoin about his plans for the city, if elected.
Following a year unlike any other, the challenges that face Lake Charles on the road to recovery may seem endless.
“When everything is broken, you can move the pieces around easily,” Sean Ardoin said.
However, there’s been no shortage of opinion on how to face those challenges.
”I don’t think the City of Lake Charles wants the same hands putting the pieces back together.”
Ardoin, a Lake Charles native, small business owner, and 2-time Grammy nominee says his reason for running for office is simple.
”I want to help the people, and I want to help the people in the best way possible,” Ardoin said.
His vision for the city surrounds five key factors:
IMMEDIATE STORM RECOVERY: “We want to start with immediate storm recovery, we have to help the owners of these houses and the people who rent. We need our population back.”
“City of Lake Charles, use your own discernment. You can tell this administration is very reactive. I’m proactive.”
“It’s going to be a long hurricane season. So, we have to start getting ready now.”
“My idea is to get 3 semi-truck full of supplies. Take those offsite out of the path of the hurricane. Have 3 staging areas in north, south and central and bring them back to have something to start with because the initial time after a hurricane is the most crucial.”
“I’m not intimidated by the storms whatsoever. We have great minds here in LC. I’m going to listen to them.”
TRANSPORTATION: “We need to look at our transportation system. Right now, the federal government has increased its buy-in for our transportation system to 90 percent. What we can do is beta test our routes.”
“5:45 p.m. is when the routes stop and it doesn’t make sense and we haven’t revisited those routes in I don’t know how long,” Ardoin said. “We have an opportunity to reimagine what the transportation system can look like.”
“Route times would be 5 a.m. to midnight.”
“Our commitment right now is 25 percent of total cost. We can beta test it and make sure it makes sense. If we can increase usership, we can increase services.”
“I want to mount a campaign to make riding the bus cool, and also get one bus to just go up and down Ryan street only.”
REINVESTING IN NORTH LAKE CHARLES: “We’ve got to reinvest in North LC. A 3-legged horse can’t win a race and we’re only as strong as the weakest side of our city.”
“As far as North LC, previous administrations have said this and that, but nobody’s done anything. It crosses generations. We understand it, but nobody wants to do anything about it. I want to do something about it.”
“Until we invest in North LC and increase the tax base and the way it looks and functions and the metrics that it shows, it’s going to be really hard to attract big-box places there.”
REINVESTING IN DOWNTOWN LAKE CHARLES: “I want to shut downtown down once a month. I want to get vendors to come and set up because activity breeds activity.”
“If we can get people seeing downtown, thinking downtown, now downtown can be an option.”
REVITALIZING LOCAL FESTIVALS: “One thing I want to do is bring back our status as the second largest festival city in the state. That’s tourism worthy.”
“When I was out around the country performing, I was telling people to come to Lake Charles.”
Sean graduated from Barbe High and has a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and Life Christian University. He served as an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce and on a regional governing board of the Recording Academy. Sean is a two-time Grammy nominee. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Omega, and Phi Mu Alpha fraternities.
Ardoin wants to focus attention on the small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
“How do we help them moving forward, and they are the ones that know the answers to that, so it’s really about bringing them in having the conversations,” Ardoin said.
Ardoin believes it’s important to engage and listen to the youth in the community. If elected, he wants to form a Mayor’s Youth Initiative that creates a public and private partnership with the city, parish, school board, law enforcement, entrepreneurs, businesses, and industry in order to connect the youth with internships and mentorships.
Ardoin says the city’s economic recovery from Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Delta and the pandemic is a top priority for his administration.
MORE FROM ARDOIN’S INTERVIEW:
“For far too long, we have not put LC first. From the decisions we’ve made when companies want to build here, outsourcing companies. It just doesn’t make sense to me,” Ardoin said. “We’re giving our tax dollars and helping someone else’s ecosystem.”
“If we think ‘LC first’, I think that’s going to help us out.”
“We lost an oil center to Lafayette because we passed it up. That won’t happen under my administration.”
“Our citizens dine, shop, and get entertained one hour away to Lafayette, two hours to Houston, or three hours to New Orleans.”
If we mine the 88 to 100,000 people coming on Interstate-10 every day, if we do it on purpose, we can increase our tax base without increasing taxes but we’ve got to do it on purpose.”
“We’ve got a lot of talk but not a lot of action. I can only judge what you do, not what you say.”
“I want to come up with a plan for a unified growth system for the city.”
“Right now, we’re a patchwork. If you took a drone up, it would look like ten different cities. We need to have some type of formula for the new growth to match the old growth.”
“I’m offering a chance to rebuild this city together. With your input, we could make this the shining city on a hill that it’s always supposed to have been and not the pass-through that it is right now.”
To learn more about Sean Ardoin’s campaign, click HERE.
Early voting, which will include the Lake Charles mayoral race on the ballot for Lake Charles residents, begins Saturday, March 6.
View your sample ballot HERE.