City-Parish President Joey Durel’s State Of The Parish Speech [Full Text]
Do you feel the momentum? You should, after all we are at the top of every good list, and
Harvard says you are the happiest people in America!
What a wonderful ride this has been! It’s something that my family and i have shared together, along with you. So much of our family life has been defined by this brief, almost twelve years. There have been some very exciting things that happened along the way, as well as some not so happy things. When i got elected, we had two grandchildren hannah and meredith, daughters of tommy and nicole hebert. Natalie married patrick broussard, and eight years ago, i stood here and told you that braxton was born the night before, weighing 10lbs 13oz, and that he would be walking in any minute. Now he has a brother, hudson and a sister, maddisson. Jason married rachel anders, and they have reese, and are not with us today, because they are at the hospital delivering hayes joseph durel.
But, we also lost three. Lynne lost her mom, and i lost both of my parents so our family has transformed quite a bit.
But, i cannot even begin to do justice to what lynne has experienced. I have one real goal in this next chapter of our lives. That goal is to live long enough to give back to lynne all that she has given to me, and to this community.
I ran for this office and told you it was about people, not politics, that it was about keeping our children home. I told you that lafayette was ready to flourish; it just needed new leadership with enthusiasm and energy. Not once in eleven years have i reneged on those words.
We said we had to raise the bar, and we have.
There is no doubt that with some of what we have accomplished, lafayette will be a different place 25 years from now than it otherwise would have been.
Fiber has attracted jobs that are keeping, and bringing in, the best and the brightest.
Our efforts to bring a medical school will also bring in the best and the brightest.
And when they come here to work or to train, amenities like our new central park will knock their socks off.
And, of course our comprehensive plan will help guide us in a way you wanted us to head, and will help future leaders spend money a little more efficiently.
We are the smallest market in america with a ruth's chris. Now we are going to be the smallest market in america with a costco. We not only think big, we compete big!
Today, we have more than 34,000 new jobs than we had when i took office. That was what i promised more than anything. Now, i am not delusional enough to believe that it was all because of our administration.
Twelve years ago i said it was the private sector that created jobs, but that government could facilitate the creation of jobs, that government could create a favorable environment for business. I know in my heart, that we helped do that.
We did run government like a business, the best we could under the rules we have to operate.
I am extremely proud of the fact that we will leave this government in better shape financially than we found it.
While the state’s bond ratings are in jeopardy, our bond ratings have only improved. We have more money in the bank today, despite the fact that we went through a recession. Our health insurance fund was millions in the red; today it is millions in the black.
We were accessible. We said we would go anywhere, anytime, and we did. Thanks to mike grimsley and bernadette lee, we did a weekly radio call in show, and we never screened any calls.
I answered all questions, sometimes poorly, and i apologize for that. But, we took the risk. We answered questions truthfully and didn't try to sugar coat it.
Before the end of our second year, max hoyt said: “you have put a face on government.” i never forgot those words, or that responsibility.
We focused on the people, not the persons. We made decisions based on what we thought best for lafayette, not for special interest groups. I suspect i made just about every narrowly focused group unhappy at some point.
We listened to them and their issues, but we responded to the needs of, and what was best for, the greater good of our community. Our decisions were based on the whole of lafayette, not pieces of lafayette.
With the guidance of philippe gustin, we have strengthened our international ties, and those efforts have been recognized. Because of the work lynne did on the marquis de lafayette celebration, president bush invited us to a state dinner with french president sarkozy.
And, in march, 25 mayors from cities around the world, including the mayor of paris, will meet in lafayette for an aimf (international association of francophone mayors) meeting. This will be the first time this organization ever holds a meeting in the united states.
At the end of my first year, doug menefee sent me an email that said, "you have delivered on every campaign promise you made in your first year!" that was because i wasn't a politician that said anything it took just to get elected.
We didn't promise a turkey on every table; we didn't make unrealistic, empty promises that you always hear, but really know are impossible to deliver.
We took a business approach, not a political approach.
Have any of you seen our pfy commercial? You might have noticed that we don’t say lafayette anywhere in our public service announcements. That was by design.
We are announcing today, that we are making pfy available to all of acadiana, so they can benefit from our efforts. What could be an easier regional effort than cleaning up acadiana together?
We want every city and parish in acadiana to know that all that we have is available to them. Working together, we can make this a cultural change initiative!
I am happy to announce that new iberia and iberia parish are our first acadiana partner. With us today is mayor hilda curry, jane braud (mainstreet program), parish councilman david ditch, jason devillier (airport), mike tarantino (industrial development foundation), farrell armentor and janet faulk with the chamber of commerce.
Both cathedral and st. Pius are becoming pfy schools, i’m hoping more will follow.
We had to get out of the box if we were going to move lafayette into the future, and we did, quickly. Within four months of taking office, we announced a feasibility study to explore the possibility of this community deploying its own fttp network.
You know the story, and so does much of the world! To terry and to the whole team at lcg, thank you for working together, for the good of all. Terry, we have gone through an awful lot together, thank you for your loyalty and commitment to our success.
As i have traveled this parish, one of the most common things i am asked is, “when will we get fiber?” that answer depended in large part on making fiber successful in lafayette. We’re there!
Today, i am announcing that we will make our fiber technology available, first to businesses, in the other towns in lafayette parish, maybe even other parishes.
It is another contribution to the regionalism effort we began in 2004, and the chamber is taking to a new level.
There are three criteria required:
#1 it has to make sense financially.
#2 there will have to be an annexation agreement between lafayette and that city.
#3 should be easy for most. That city must simply be a good neighbor.
I hope the next administration will adhere to these criteria. To that end, i am asking the governing authority of lus, the lpua, to pass an ordinance to this effect to provide that safeguard.
Youngsville is likely to be our first opportunity, because mayor viator and i agreed on an annexation map a couple of years ago, and mayor ritter has also embraced it.
With the help of the lpua and our two councils, this could become a reality before the end of this year. I’m anxious to get the ball rolling, who wants to be next?
How do i possibly thank all of the people that have played a role in our success? Let me start with many of you, the private sector. You have truly made lafayette what it is today. Thank you!
Without you, none of the rest matters. I am honored to have served you all.
Something i will always be proud of is the team we assembled. There can be no doubt about the qualifications of the people we have put in place.
To my staff and dee’s, thank you for the work you do behind the scenes to make government work a little better for our citizens.
Thank you to all of the directors, past and present, who i have had the great fortune to have served with, i can never thank you enough.
I just wish i had time here to recognize each one of you, because you have all played significant roles in getting lafayette to where it is today.
But, we are always looking to the future. When i look at who we have moved into various positions i feel great about how we have begun preparing for that future.
You know me, i always like to acknowledge the elephant in the room. This is an election year, and i can’t help that.
But, it’s also my last sop, so i cannot let that stop me from thanking the highest appointed official in this government. Dee, you have an amazing work ethic! You are the energizer bunny rabbit.
I know of no one who returns phone calls the way you do. No one, and i mean no one gets the difficult things done like you. You are clearly the "go to" guy.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have meant to this administration, and to lafayette!
I have told every councilman elected, to please consider every vote they cast, on how it would affect lafayette years from now.
Thank you to the councilmen who i have served with. Especially, those who took some risk, and cared enough about the future to do so.
I have poked fun at him over the years, but this administration, has had no greater partner in our focus on getting jobs than gregg gothreaux, and leda.
Gregg stood tall when others were timid. Gregg stood by me when others hid behind me. Gregg was always focused on getting jobs to lafayette and to acadiana.
We started the regionalism discussion early on in my term, but it was gregg that took that effort to another level by actually funding a regional economic development entity. All i brought with my efforts was a high profile position, and the motivation to keep our young people home.
I can never thank you enough for your partnership, gregg, and i do know that it is nothing to joke about.
You said roads and infrastructure had to be a priority, and we made it a priority by offering you the ability to vote for the most dedicated infrastructure tax in history...The year before my re-election.
Had that tax passed, we would have over $400m in new infrastructure already in the ground or in the works.
But, maybe the failed tax was a blessing in disguise. It was probably the genesis of the development of a comprehensive plan.
We knew that if we weren't going to just fund the necessary infrastructure as others had done before us, then we couldn't, and cannot continue to, develop in the same manner we have in the past.
As i have said to you before, we have got to change the conversation; we have to change our approach in how we deal with issues, like growth. The comprehensive plan gives us the opportunity to do it differently: we have no other choice.
With the new airport terminal, we have a proven, trusted model to build specific projects in the future.
It can be used to build a school, a bridge, a courthouse, a performing arts center, and more. This model can be used to help gain your trust, project by project.
Next month you have an opportunity to do something we hear a lot of talk about: improving government efficiency. You will vote on rededicating two millages, into a single public health millage, that adds animal control to it, without raising any taxes. If it fails, you will still pay the tax!
If it passes, animal control will have a dedicated funding source, parishwide. And, eventually, a needed, state-of-the-art animal shelter can be built, without taking money away from roads, bridges, drainage or other parish needs.
If it fails, that future animal shelter cannot be built without taking away from those needs. The savings to our general fund will be nearly $1.5 million per year, again without raising taxes! Somebody please tell me how this doesn't make sense?
Much of our success was because you trusted us to do the right things for lafayette.
Hopefully, you will trust us for a few more months, because we are not stopping yet. We still have some very important things to get done.
There is nothing we can do to take downtown to another level better than getting people to live there. We have got to turn the old federal courthouse into something great for downtown.
Not by us, but let’s get it into the hands of the private sector!
Doing nothing for another 20 years would be sinful. With the help of the council, we will get it done.
We still have a major component of the comp plan to get adopted, the udc. With the amount of money the council has invested, and the thousands of volunteer manhours put in, i am optimistic the council will adopt it.
We have started the conversation of a new performing arts center. That discussion must continue.
We have the beginnings of another bridge across the river, that could be done within five years, not 50. We are buying undeveloped land so that we don’t have to buy 81 homes later.
All locations for our four police substations have been identified.
All avenues to fix consolidation go directly through the council. If i were able, i’d have brought a proposition to tweak the charter to the people to vote on that would put millions of dollars into parish government.
But, no one seems to want to even discuss it.
It’s too bad, because the consequences of kicking the can, is affecting us all.
Fixing consolidation should be the single biggest campaign issue this year.
Please don't measure us by an issue or two, but instead, by the body of our work. How do you like the lafayette we are leaving behind?
If you like the accolades we have gotten over the past eleven years, if you like that our bond ratings have done nothing but improve, which recognizes the fiscally responsible way this government has been run,
If you like the job growth, increased property values, the desirability of living in lafayette as proven by our population growth,
If you like the direction and atmosphere we have here in lafayette, you will have to decide how to best keep the momentum going. And, we do have momentum.
Lafayette is on the map like never before. We appear at the top of many important positive lists.
We are on the map for our business friendly atmosphere, our fiber optic initiative, our festivals, our arts and culture, our food and our people.
Like him or not, even the president of the united states held up lafayette’s fiber initiative as an example for the rest of the country to emulate. Has that ever happened before?
We were, and still are, the leaders that america looks to!
We worked to move lafayette. We pushed you to move lafayette, and you pushed us. I was true to my words about keeping our children and grandchildren in acadiana.
It is a mayors job to push, to take risk. When a mayor stops taking risk, he is not being true to the people who put him, or her, there.
Everything i did, i did because i love my family and want them to inherit an even better lafayette.
Everything i did, i did for the good of all of lafayette. I did everything that i did, knowing it might even sometimes make some of you unhappy.
But, i did what i did, i did everything that i did, because i also love you, the people of lafayette parish and acadiana!