LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - With early voting starting this weekend, we continue highlighting one of the biggest races on the ballot: Lake Charles Mayor.
Three candidates are running against current Mayor Nic Hunter. Tuesday, we spoke to candidate Joshua Lewis about his plans for the city, if elected.
Joshua Lewis, 36, is a Lake Charles native and entrepreneur. This is his first time running for office.
“I’m born and raised here. I love my city and I just want to grow it,” Lewis said. “It’s a great city. Let’s develop it and work with what we have.”
Lewis is the youngest of the candidates eyeing for the mayor’s seat. He says his campaign has humble beginnings and a grassroots model.
“For those that don’t know me, I come from a low-income housing subdivision that used to be owned by the City of Lake Charles,” Lewis said. “My reasons for running for mayor are very simple and touching, largely due to my aunt, Mary Lewis.”
Lewis says he is honoring the legacy of his aunt who played a large role in his upbringing.
“When the city sold the housing subdivision, we really had nowhere to go,” Lewis said. “At that point, I seen a pivot in life. I reached out to several family members. Within three days, my aunt was here to come get me.”
Lewis says it’s his humble beginnings in Lake Charles that play a driving force behind his run for office.
”I want to show the community that you can have a leader, a day-to-day working guy lead the people and understand everyone.”
Among his list of priorities, Lewis says, is a passion to create strategized jobs to keep locals in Lake Charles.
“We have to get every able-bodied individual here working and retain local workers. We can keep local tax dollars here and we can focus and revisit the plan on lowering taxes,” Lewis said.
He also wants to fix the housing crisis in the wake of last year’s storms.
”I want to put a plan in place for people to own their own homes because the ever-growing housing shortage for public housing is here.”
LEWIS’S PLAN IF ELECTED MAYOR:
- Reestablish community initiative
- Develop a program to turn renters into homeowners
- Develop a pipeline between McNeese and Sowela in hopes of providing skills to high school youth and cut the public school-prison pipeline
- Revisit city road plan
- Review the citywide 2 a.m. curfew time
- Establish a trolly that travels up and down Ryan Street to encourage tourism
- Build morale for McNeese; Pack the house for games
- Reevaluate current drainage plan: “We have gone up on the drainage budget 400 percent. We still have neighborhoods that are flooding. The more claims of any insurance type in the area, it raises our premium,” Lewis said.
LEWIS’S THOUGHTS ON STORM RECOVERY:
“You have individuals that will say they would do things differently. You have to be in that moment to make those decisions to be brutally honest.”
“If you weren’t in those shoes, it’s kind of hard to say what you would do. It’s easy to say what could have been done. I have to commend him.”
“We’re frustrated. Some of us have been better than most as far as home repair. Some homes have been totaled. My heart goes out to you,” Lewis said.
“I’ve been helping with a group called the ‘Vessel Project’. Beautiful people, we have literally been boots on the ground getting people out of the cold.”
“We are beautiful people in tragedy, and we will rebuild and come back better than ever.”
“Under new leadership, you get to see it from a different perspective.”
LEWIS’S THOUGHTS ON COMMUNITY POLICING & YOUTH INITIATIVES: “A lot of times, we expect children just to take things because they’re children, but they’re individuals. They’re little people growing up taking things in their own way,” Lewis said. “I would like to ask the community, the children, what can we do to stimulate you?”
Going into the race, Lewis has also had to answer questions about his eligibility.
”There have been concerns about my address. I want to vow to you that I can justify if anyone should contest doable reason why I should be mayor of Lake Charles.”
Lewis believes he’s qualified and can lead the position based on life experience. However, he doesn’t want to be defined by this election.
“Me not having the funding lets you know that I’m grassroots and fully into it. I can speak to everyone for every walk of life, and I think that should be the reflection of leadership,” Lewis said. “I don’t have a big namesake, and I don’t do it for the recognition. If I were to lose, I will return to the community, and I’m willing to work with any administration because it’s about the people.”
MORE FROM LEWIS’S INTERVIEW
“I’m a democrat, but guess what, I bleed oil and gas. So, without oil and gas, we’re crippled.”
“Since I can’t really go out and reach a lot of people, if you see my sign, I’m at several key parts of the city where I hold my own sign,” Lewis said. “If no one else is there, I’m there because I believe in hard work, dedication, and persistence. That’s some of the focal points that I want people to think about when they’re thinking about Joshua Lewis as a candidate for mayor.”
“We have the land space, beautiful buildings, best food in the nation. What do we need to keep local dollars here and save us money?”
“When you have someone who’s had to work with little to nothing, I know how to work with just about everything. With the right tools, we can get the job done.”