Lafayette Parish School Board member Mark Cockerham is being endorsed by Empower PAC, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce's political action committee in his race for District 7 for the Lafayette Parish School Board.

Even though Cockerham has stepped down from his seat for the remainder of his term, he is still eligible to run for the office. Cockerham stepped down after a suit was filed on his residency.

The suit brought by his opponent in the race, Dawn Morris, claimed he no longer lived in the district.  The district attorney's office determined that his new address in not in District 7, so he stepped down from the seat.  The opinion from the DA's office indicated that Cockerham is still eligible as a candidate in the race.

Empower PAC Chairman Frank Neuner says,

"Through all the adversity and infighting of this school board, Mark has been a persistent voice for cooperation and common sense. A fierce advocate for District 7, Mark has remained focused on increasing student achievement and ensuring adequate facilities throughout his term of office. We are proud of his service and determination.”

Cockerham says,

 

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of our business leaders. This pattern of personal attacks and finger-pointing on our school board needs to end. That’s why I’m running. I’m not interested in playing personal politics. I’m ready to build on the gains our schools have made, and I’m focused on meeting the needs of my district. South Lafayette continues to grow rapidly and we need a permanent solution to the temporary buildings that have been up for years. I will continue to work with anyone and everyone to meet the needs of our students and teachers.”

Neuner wasn't the only one to weigh in on the PAC decision.  Jason El Koubi, a non-voting member of Empower PAC's board of director and the Chamber CEO had this to add,

“Despite the dysfunction of our school board, there have been incumbents who consistently voted to improve student achievement by supporting the community developed Turnaround Plan. We commend the hard fought efforts of those individuals. Our community deserves leaders who will remain focused on improving student achievement and preparedness. To that end, Empower PAC worked to identify candidates committed to implementing 'a Common Vision for Our Future,'  a set of principles and priorities for Lafayette's public schools endorsed by 13 community organizations. The vision stresses good governance practices, a commitment to evidence-based instruction, community engagement, and forging a path towards facilities we can be proud of.”