From left are Charles Guillory and Brian Ardoin as they shake hands during the Political Forum held Monday at the Ville Platte Civic Center. Both are candidates for Evangeline Parish Sheriff. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Taking shots at the forum
In a political forum sponsored by the Ville Platte Gazette and KVPI radio, the two candidates for Evangeline Parish Sheriff answered questions ranging from how to combat the growing drug problem in the parish to plans for a new jail.
Mistress of ceremonies for the forum was Evangeline Parish Woman of the Year Connie Lamke. Donations for the forum were also received from Paul’s Meat Market, Champagne’s, Teet’s, B&S, Subway, T-Boy’s, Joe’s Diner, Ace Hardware, and the Louisiana Cotton Festival.
In his opening remarks, Brian Ardoin took shots against his opponent when he said, “I’ve been in law enforcement for over 20 years. I’m probably the only candidate with real law enforcement experience.”
Charles Guillory replied, “I retired from probation and parole in Ville Platte after 37 years of state service. I’m the only candidate who has retired from the state of Louisiana.”
He continued while pulling out several cards from his wallet, “I have my picture ID card to prove that I am a state retired law enforcement officer. I have a post certification from the governor. I have maintained my post certification. I can carry a concealed weapon, and I am exempt from illegal carrying of a firearm. Also, I was a district administrator of my office. I feel I have an all around knowledge of the system.”
Guillory then took a subtle shot at Ardoin when he said, “I haven’t quit a job, got ran off, or anything. I’m not a quitter. I won’t quit you as sheriff when things get rough.”
The following is a rundown of the candidates’ answers to some of the main questions asked Monday evening:
Question: If elected what are your plans to combat the growing drug problem in Evangeline Parish?
Guillory: I want to have a drug hotline which people can call in to. We have to work together. I can’t do it by myself. That’s why I want the hotline. All I want to know is their name and address. Your phone number won’t be recorded. I want a drug task force. With the task force, they are going to pursue drugs vigorously.
Drugs are destroying our children, and it has to stop.
Ardoin: As far as ridding the community of drugs, you’re foolish if you think that’s going to happen. What you can do to attack drugs is start by going through education. You educate kids from a young age to prevent them from getting on drugs at the very beginning.
Those who are on drugs and are selling drugs right now, you get them a job and cut them off. If that means they go to prison, then maybe that’s what they need to do. Some people won’t stop unless they are in jail.
Question: As sheriff, how would you address the growing problem of juvenile crime in the parish?
Guillory: I want to have a juvenile officer on board to help the state juvenile officer. Also, I would like to have a juvenile detention center. We’re going to arrest the juveniles.
Ardoin: The best way to address delinquents who are juveniles is through the school system and through the churches. Those are the two places you can actually reach children. Right now, Evangeline Parish has a Title I funded program to try to reach kids where people in the community come into the school system and be a mentor to these children.
We need to be good mentors. We need to make sure to develop some programs by using the resources we have and thinking outside the box. We address it by loving our children and trying to see about them as if they were ours.
Question: How will you bring both sides of a community together because there is such a big divide in the parish?
Guillory: There is a big division, and it’s going to take everybody. The division has to stop, or we’re not going to make it. We’re all going to have to get together and be on the same page and help each other. It has to be genuine. I really think the problems here are deep rooted. There has to be a lot of conversation and talk. It has to be done quickly.
As sheriff, that is what I’m going to strive for. I want to be sheriff for everybody, and I want to try to help everybody as much as I can. But, everybody has to help themselves.
Ardoin: First, we have to start with the good people. I think the best way to do that is solicit your churches. Ministers will have to assist in that effort. It’s their calling.
As far as children, our children are already together. They play baseball together. It’s usually the adults who are the divide. If you keep thinking like way back in the day, we will never move forward. The reality is our problems are made by us.
When you talk about the divide in the parish, the real issue is can we bring Baptists and Catholics together and can we bring Methodists and Pentecostals together. We need to allow people to be loved and share love.
Question: Share your plans to have deputies patrolling the entire parish especially at night.
Ardoin: I want to have a narcotics unit working every night or every other night. We should have a supervisor roaming around not just doing paperwork.
Guillory: I want to split the parish into four zones and have a patrolman in each zone. We need a fifth patrolman to be the supervisor to give all the orders.
Also, I would like a traffic division. All they are going to do is run traffic and keep the roadways safe.
Question: What are your plans for a new jail?
Ardoin: I would like to know more about halfway houses, but, until you get a conviction, we can’t discuss halfway houses.
Would I like to take a grant and build a brand new jail, yes. What people don’t realize is it’s not the building of the facility. It’s the operation costs of the facility.
Guillory: We do need a new jail. A new jail that is built should be built to federal standards. The only reason you want to have a brand new jail is to earn revenue and to house federal inmates if possible or state inmates if possible. It’s a business, a law enforcement agency, and a correctional facility at the same time.
In his closing remarks, Guillory described himself as believing in God, country, family, the Second Amendment, and standing up for the Flag.
He then said, “I have a lot of motivation and energy to be sheriff. I will fix the problems, but I need everybody’s help.”
“Evangeline Parish made sweeping changes in the senatorial race, the representative race, and the assessor race,” he continued. “All three are conservative Republicans. Let’s keep that momentum going. I am a conservative Republican.”
Ardoin used his closing remarks to again take shots at Guillory.
“Me and my opponent could not be more different,” Ardoin said. “I’m the only candidate with real law enforcement experience. I wouldn’t dare use political gain to talk about my opponent’s inexperience or youth, but I have both. The choice is easy.”
He continued, “There is a status quo that exists in Evangeline Parish, and we’re happy with it right now. There’s only one best candidate, and that candidate is me. If you choose to go in another direction, know that you are not choosing the best for your children or grandchildren. You’re choosing popularity. You’re fearful of a young man that’s going to tell you no. Drug dealers don’t want to vote for me because they fear me. People are telling white people I’m prejudiced. That’s ridiculous. That’s the bull that everybody always falls victim to. We need to stop it, or we’re never going to move forward.”