LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Four candidates will be on the March 20, ballot looking to be Lake Charles Mayor. This week we continue to get to know those candidates.
Our third candidate profile features Jesse Bernard - a political newcomer who has worked with the city’s sanitation department for the last 9 years. With that experience, he says he knows what the city needs.
”Me running against the current administration - I’m actually running against my boss,” Bernard said. “You have somebody that’s already working in your community. So, I understand what a lot of these people are going through.”
Bernard says his run for mayor is rooted in a combination of faith and passion.
“I feel that I can be of service to the community more than what I’ve done and the community deserves someone that’s going to work on their behalf,” he said.
If elected, Bernard says he wants to tackle issues plaguing the city’s drainage system and future development, but his biggest priority is bringing residents back to the city following recent storms.
“Within the first 100 days, we’re going to work on bringing people back home,” said Bernard. ”We can talk about bringing in new businesses but if you don’t have the community here, how do we utilize those businesses for them to actually grow.”
He also aims to increase pay for city employees.
”You have some people that work for the city that don’t clear $500 in a 2-week time period; in an economy that a 1 bedroom [apartment] is almost $900.”
Bernard says he also wants to create work opportunities for young people.
”Years ago, during the summer, there used to be a summer worker’s program for the 12 and up group. We need to implement more plans like this to get the youth in the habit of working and seeing what they can accomplish.”
He said being a newcomer in politics during a pandemic has had its challenges.
”With COVID-19 restrictions, you can’t call town hall meetings safely. So, it’s been very difficult to reach a number of people throughout the city.”
BERNARD’S PLAN IF ELECTED MAYOR:
- Bringing families back home.
- Working on city’s infrastructure.
- Bringing more jobs.
- Increase pay for city employees.
- Drainage. “We need to implement putting another route to re-route water to a different location other than coulees.”
- Focus on riverwalk development.
BERNARD’S THOUGHTS ON STORM RECOVERY:
“The main focus needs to be bringing our people back home.”
“Some of the conversations that I’ve had with the community is that they’re missing family members.”
“One of the issues that I would propose is to put temporary mobile homes on the property to bring people back home,” Bernard said. “We’re not talking about one side of town, we’re talking about the entire Lake Charles.”
“I know we’re going to face some oppositions with zoning and things of that nature but I’m willing to work with the city council to get these things into fruition.”
MORE FROM BERNARD’S INTERVIEW:
“I’m born and raised in Lake Charles. I moved to Kinder after 6th grade and lived on a farm. I moved back after graduation and attended school at Delta School of Business and Technology.”
“It is my first time running for a public office.”
“I’ve reached out to business outside of the state of Louisiana and they’re willing to come in and open businesses but one of the criteria is they have to hire here.”
“The people that are going to work here have to be from our community.”
“So many times we allow people to come in and the jobs come from outside and the people in our community are the ones struggling.”
“I think we need to have youth programs where we utilize business leaders, pastors, and counselors.”
“We need to have some kind of activity to put our children in that’s going to be more structured...that’s going to curb the crime rate and get the youth back into the habit of working for things.”
“I’m genuinely running for the community. It’s not about me. It’s about bringing people home and building our communities up. I’m not just talking North Lake Charles or Central, I’m talking the whole city.”
“Me running against this administration - I’m actually running against my boss. I hope the community sees that they have someone that is willing to jeopardize their livelihood to advocate on their behalf.”