LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Lafayette Parish Mayor-President Josh Guillory voluntarily checked himself into rehab for an addiction to alcohol and untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Guillory has now returned home after his rehab treatment. LCG Chief Communications Director Jamie Angelle said in a statement Friday that Guillory had ‘successfully completed treatment’ and will spend the weekend with his family.
“He will be return to the office on Monday,” Angelle said.
He asked for privacy at the time for himself and his family and promised that upon his return he would answer questions from the media.
Guillory held his first post-rehab press conference on Monday, August 15. In the conference, Guillory kept reporters from asking follow-up questions on such issues as a construction-related business he and his wife established in the wake of a Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) infrastructure boom, as first reported by The Current.
Guillory also defended his decision to remain in power during his rehab stint instead of allowing the city and parish councils to name an interim leader. “Look, the people elected me, elected my policies, elected my thoughts and ideas, and the administration is there to carry out those thoughts and ideas,” said Guillory. “Twenty-one days — not a long time, and, you know, I feel like the folks deserve those initiatives to go forward, and thankfully, we have great leaders in place. Some of those guys and ladies are in this room right now, and can carry out those initiatives.”
Guillory also used the press conference to offer direct help to victims of alcoholism and PTSD.
“I understand what you’re going through,” said Guillory. “And it can get better.”
Guillory said that those suffering from alcoholism and PTSD who don’t know where to start getting help can call his office.
Guillory spoke about his recovery, noting that a 21-day stint in rehab would not be an immediate cure, and called the stay the first “of many bricks in a solid foundation in a lifelong recovery plan.”
“As I said in my statement three weeks ago, asking for help — it’s not something I’m accustomed to doing,” said Guillory. “It just doesn’t come easy or natural to me. But I recognized a problem, and I knew that if I did not proactively seek, ask for, and receive help, it would not only hurt my family, myself, my loved ones — but it would also hurt the city and parish of Lafayette and the residents that I care deeply about.”
News 10 also held an exclusive interview with Guillory and his wife, Jamie. During the exclusive reporting, the questioning got right to the Mayor-President admitting his struggles with alcohol, his 21-day stint in rehab and accusations surrounding his wife’s company.
“We can’t guarantee certain things on our own volitions, so we have to turn it over if you want success. The other option is not to drink, and I’m ok with that.”
Jamie Guillory then addressed what she referred to as allegations of abuse. “You know you hear in the media there was this big blow up or like I was abused or he was violent, that was never the case. I mean, it was just a decision that he made and I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
In moving forward, the couple also answered to published reports questioning possible ethics violations about a company Guillory says his wife owns called WM&N.
“It’s a company that we discussed starting after a hurricane to get supplies and equipment to people who needed it most, it’s under my name and we in no certain terms are dealing with any companies involved in government contracts.”
Guillory’s time in rehab
On Monday, July 25, Guillory, currently in the third year of his first term, checked himself into a 21-day rehabilitation center for “an addiction to alcohol and untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” according to his press release.
Guillory explained that he has relied on alcohol to aid him in easing pains brought on by his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“Instead, I found myself relying on alcohol to ease those pains,” said Guillory. “Understand that I have never had a drink before or during working hours. But, in recent months I have noticed my growing dependency as soon as the day is over. And while that dependency has not had a direct impact on my duties as Mayor-President, it has begun to negatively impact my interpersonal relationships, especially my family, which is more important than everything else. This weekend, I made the decision to voluntarily check myself into an in-patient rehabilitation facility for 21 days to help me overcome what I believe was becoming an addiction to alcohol and untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Guillory’s time in rehab raised many questions on how Lafayette will continue to be governed. In his time away, special arrangements were made for Guillory to communicate his duties through the city-parish attorney and chief administrative officer, according to the original press release.
During this time, News 10 exclusively obtained a letter from Josh Guillory sent to the Louisiana Attorney General, Jeff Landry (see below). In this letter, Guillory asks Landry to determine if an interim mayor-president should be chosen while he is in rehab. Guillory then says he’s been advised the chairs of the Lafayette Parish and city councils either have attempted, or intend to attempt, to appoint a member of their councils to act as mayor-president.
In the letter sent Wednesday, Guillory says the charter requires two things before a city or parish council member takes over. The mayor-president must be both absent and unavailable to Lafayette Parish for more than 48 hours. Guillory writes, “It is obvious that under no circumstance am I ‘unavailable to Lafayette Parish.’”
Chair of the Lafayette Parish Council A.B. Rubin admits there had been talk between the councils of appointing an interim mayor-president while Guillory is in rehab. He argued the word “unavailable” in the charter isn’t clear, and they need opinions from legal council. “I know they would like for us to do one thing, but we have to do what’s legal. Because there are ramifications than can happen if we do something harsh, and it’s not legal,” Rubin added.
Rubin also admitted that Guillory’s administration had threatened fines and jail time if a council member stepped into his role. “The fines and the jail time, that’s something that came across the pipe, and we want to make sure we’re right. We want to make sure we’re in the right standing whenever we make whatever decision we have to do,” Rubin told News 10.
In the August 2 letter, the two councils asked Landry to “…acknowledge the eliminated, or, at best, significantly diminished possibility for the citizens of Lafayette Parish to either get to or use the direct service of the Mayor-President…”
The councils also said that Guillory administration officials have not allowed the councils to verify Guillory’s actual availability. They argued that his absence from Lafayette didn’t allow the councils to verify which documents Guillory personally saw or handled.
The issue is particularly delicate, considering the city-parish government is entering its budget negotiations for the upcoming year.
Lafayette Consolidated Government Deputy Chief of Staff Jamie Angelle said on July 28 that Guillory has asked La. Attorney General Jeff Landry to issue an opinion on the matter.
“The Mayor-President believes any action by the Councils would be unfounded and unnecessary given the fact that he receives a daily briefing on pertinent matters involving the City and Parish of Lafayette and remains available as needed,” stated Angelle in a press release.
According to the Lafayette City-Parish Charter, “When the Mayor-President is absent from and unavailable to Lafayette Parish for more than 48 hours, the powers and duties of the office of Mayor-President shall be exercised by a member of the City Council or Parish Council jointly appointed by the chair of each Council. In the event that the chair of the City Council and the chair of the Parish Council declare that they are unable to agree upon a joint appointment, the powers and duties of the office of Mayor-President shall be exercised by a member of the City Council or Parish Council appointed in the following manner: the City Council and the Parish Council shall convene a joint meeting, and by resolution adopted by a favorable vote of at least a majority of the authorized membership of each of the City Council and the Parish Council, shall appoint an acting Mayor-President from among the membership of the City Council or the Parish Council. When serving as acting Mayor-President, the Council member shall not have a vote on his/her Council or participate in his/her Council activities.”
Guillory said he will remain in contact with Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan and Chief Administrative Officer Cydra Wingerter to continue his duties while in rehab.
Logan released a legal opinion on the matter of whether or not Guillory can officially remain in charge of the city-parish government despite being out of state for rehab. He notes that with modern technology, Guillory is easily reachable and is therefore not “unavailable” for day-to-day governmental duties.
The Mayor-President remains Chief Executive Officer of the City of Lafayette, the Parish of Lafayette, and the City-Parish Government, being available to exercise all general executive and administrative authority over all administrative functions, departments of Lafayette Consolidated Government in accordance with the Charter.
Because of Mayor-President Guillory’s status as an elected official, who serves as Chief Executive Officer of Lafayette, special arrangements were made with his in-patient treatment facility to allow 24-hour access to the Mayor-President. He can be reached by the City-Parish Attorney or the Chief Administrative Officer at any time, as needed. Additionally, the Mayor-President will personally review and sign any documents, such as contracts or ordinances that he has customarily signed as Mayor-President for the past two and a half years of his administration.
Furthermore, the Mayor-President is equipped with a computer with secure wi-fi access to the Lafayette Consolidated Government’s network. The Mayor-President remains available to perform his functions as the Mayor-President of Lafayette remotely. Therefore, the Mayor-President is not “unavailable” within the meaning of Section 3-06 of the LCG Home Rule Charter.Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan
However, the home rule charter states that the city-parish charter can command that his duties be handed over to a council member collectively chosen by the chairs of each council.
Parish Council Chairperson A.B. Rubin says they have been in meetings with legal counsel and will let the public know when a decision has been made.
With budget hearings underway the mayor president has a number of pay raises to answer for including increases for his executive team.
Guillory’s chief communications officer says they will relay any input he has for the budget hearings.
Moreover, he explains that Guillory will be back long before anything is finalized.
LCG says the target date to finalize the budget is September 8.
What is post traumatic stress disorder?
Due to the Mayor-Presidents’ untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), KLFY has spoken with experts to gain a better understanding of the disorder and how it affects people’s lives.
According to the National Center for PTSD, it is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD.
Maria “Mica” Istre, LPC is the Owner and CEO of Tree of Life Counseling and Consulting of Lafayette who says PTSD is an anxiety-based disorder.
“The first early sign is a lot of anxiety and that can look like a loss of appetite, feeling on edge, restlessness,” Istre said.
She added that PTSD symptoms can include avoidance of things they use to engage in often or things that trigger the memory of the trauma.
“That’s very common after a month of someone being exposed to any kind of traumatic event that could include sexual assault, childhood abuse, combat, war zone as well as natural disasters which we due experience quite often here in Acadiana.”
She says left untreated, PTSD can be debilitating.
“The thing that’s great is our brains have the capacity to heal. We do have PTSD protocols like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) that are very effective in healing the brain and the trauma responses to help someone build and rebuild their life to thrive again,” Istre explained.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD symptoms differ from normal upsetting memories where one can feel on edge or have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event and says at first it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.
Statements of support
Josh Guillory’s wife, Jamie Guillory, issued her statement of support for her husband during this time:
Let me start by saying thank you to the hundreds of people who have reached out to my family and me with words of encouragement and support. I cannot tell you how much it means to all of us. Our faith is strong, and we know that God is in charge.
I am always proud of my husband. He is an amazing person and a dedicated public servant, but I do not think I have ever been prouder of him than I am right now. Asking for help is hard for anyone, and it is especially hard for Josh. He is always the first to help others. I am proud to stand beside him now and help him.
You can tell a lot about someone when the pressure is turned up. I think that applies now. It is unfortunate that some will try to take advantage of this situation for their political advantage. Times like this will tell you a lot about a person’s character.” Thank you all again for your continued support. Our family asks for your continued prayers and for privacy at this time. While we are as anxious to get him back home as you are, we are glad he made this decision and support him 1,000 percent.
Thank you all again for your continued support. Our family asks for your continued prayers and for privacy at this time. While we are as anxious to get him back home as you are, we are glad he made this decision and support him 1,000 percent.Jamie Guillory
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber also issued a statement of support:
Having served with United States Military in Iraq alongside those on the front lines in active combat, and as an elected official myself, Mayor-President Guillory’s statement hits close to home in more ways than one.
I commend Mayor-President Guillory for prioritizing his mental health and wellbeing above all else. His strength and candor in pursuit of recovery should serve as an encouraging example for anyone who is struggling to seek help.Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber