LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– Josh Guillory is running alongside Monique Blanco Boulet and Jan Swift for Lafayette Mayor-President in this upcoming election. Guillory answered some questions News 10 asked about his political pursuit and how he would address some significant issues. Early voting has begun for the Oct. 14 Gubernatorial Primary Election.
Guillory officially became Lafayette’s Mayor-President in 2020. Some of the challenges he had to handle while in this position include: the COVID-19 pandemic; a shutdown of the economy; a collapse in energy prices; multiple weather events; recurring protests and the first budgeting cycle under the new, Amended Charter. Guillory has worked in the medical sales and financial fields and also held positions for Iberia Bank in the Lafayette market.
Before being elected, Guillory was owner/attorney of the Law Office of Joshua S. Guillory with a focus on family and constitutional law. The Louisiana State Bar, the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, the Middle District of Louisiana and the Supreme Court of the United States. He enlisted in the Louisiana Army National guard in 2001. While on active duty, he served as a Platoon Leader in the U.S. Cavalry during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2005. He was also in leadership positions like troop/company executive officer and troop/company commander.
After attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Guillory earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and marketing. He also earned his Juris Doctor degree from Southern University Law Center. Guillory and his wife both went to UL Lafayette and have three children.
Answers submitted to News 10 by Guillory have been edited for brevity and clarity
Why are you running for mayor-president?
In four years, my administration has tackled long-standing issues – drainage problems, aging roads, a stagnant economy – that have plagued our community for decades. We are seeing success in drainage with 1.25 billion gallons of storm water storage capacity added to our drainage system, hundreds of miles of ditches dug and culverts flushed, hundreds of miles of roads repaved, the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.8%, and new industries setting up shop here in the City and Parish of Lafayette.
I’m excited to continue our progress on infrastructure while also focusing more on economic development and quality of life matters such as the renovation of Brown Park, renovating Moore Park into a Super Soccer Complex, and adding a new Skate Park and a brand new, state-of-the art indoor multi-use sports facility. We are just getting started with these multi-generational successes, and I believe in Lafayette’s future.
What sets you apart from other competitors?
What sets me apart is experience and a record that reflects progress. Within months of taking office, we were faced with a global pandemic coupled with a budget deficit, followed by civil unrest, two hurricanes, a freeze and so much more.
My administration successfully navigated all of these issues while keeping our economy moving in a positive direction. I’ve managed to increase the general fund balances of both the city and parish while increasing investment in priorities like drainage, traffic and roads, public safety and quality of life.
How did your background influence your decision to run? (familial, educational, etc.)
I’ve always had a desire to serve. I enlisted in the Louisiana National Guard before 9/11 and eventually went on to Officer Candidate School. In 2005, I was deployed to Iraq where I commanded a cavalry platoon.
When I came home, I opened my own law firm and practiced predominately family law. I spent more than 10 years coaching youth athletics here in Lafayette. With my love for our city and parish, I felt called to do more, which is why I decided to run for Mayor-President in 2019, and why I am running for re-election this year.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Lafayette today? (emphasize just one challenge) What are three solutions you would consider for solving this challenge?
Keeping up the pace of success we’ve seen in the last four years is the biggest challenge because Lafayette’s economy is booming. We will keep investing in drainage to protect our citizens from flooding. We will continue to make investments in our road overlay program and build roads to improve the quality of travel for our residents and visitors.
We will continue to find ways to increase the quality of life for our citizens by supporting our first responders, increasing recreational opportunities, working with stakeholders to nurture our vibrant culture and providing access to quality healthcare and education. Combined, these are factors in attracting and retaining a skilled workforce, which helps to keep our economy diverse by attracting new business, which in turn helps to keep our young people in Lafayette.
What actions would you take with resolving the drainage issues in Downtown Lafayette? ( explain three solutions, please)
My administration has aggressively addressed the drainage issues in Downtown Lafayette. The first thing we did was a full flush of the subsurface drainage system, with a commitment and a plan to flush the entire Downtown system every year. Next, after studying the issue and considering numerous projects, we completed a sub-surface water storage project in the triangle at Lee and Jefferson Streets.
We are finishing up another sub-surface detention project on St. John Street next to Johnson’s. We also have plans to add more than 80 inlets and catch basins along downtown streets and add more detention capacity in conjunction with the planned development downtown. More projects are currently being studied.
What actions would you take with unifying Lafayette Parish and city governments? (explain three solutions, please)
The relationships with the municipalities in Lafayette Parish have never been stronger. My administration called for the formation of the City-Parish Alignment Committee in 2021, a group of community stakeholders tasked with looking at how to optimize the operations of our unique form of government. We also took steps to ensure the separation of city and parish funds and improve our allocation formulas to avoid the co-mingling of funds.
In addition, I meet monthly with the Mayors of all Lafayette Parish municipalities, which has allowed for further cooperation between the municipalities and the parish, and it has led to more cooperation and increased completion of major projects. I am very honored to be endorsed by every Mayor and every Chief of Police in the Parish. I am also very humbled to be endorsed by Lafayette Sheriff Mark Garber and District Attorney Don Landry.
Do you see the current funding of law enforcement (sheriffs and police) as not enough, adequate, or too much? Why? Are you aware of the efforts towards integrating mental health professionals into the police dept.?
Every year since taking office, my administration has budgeted for pay raises for our officers. We’ve increased the number of patrol officer positions, invested in additional training and invested in providing the appropriate equipment to meet the needs of our police force.
We are currently working with the City Council to pass a pay plan that increases the starting pay of our officers to allow us to recruit and maintain qualified personnel. We are working with Chief Judith Estorge to bring in mental health professionals to provide support and go out with our officers on patrols. This is a relatively new tactic that our Police Department will need time to handle properly.
Do you believe infrastructure in the city and parish need improvement, and if so, in what ways? (explain three solutions, please)
Improving infrastructure in the city and parish will always be a priority in my administration. When I took office, our overlay program was three years behind schedule. Now it is not only on schedule, but also allows us to stay ahead of schedule with on-going maintenance, which is key to sustaining infrastructure.
Our process includes identifying our needs, creating a plan to address those needs and establishing an ongoing maintenance plan to stay ahead. My administration has done exactly that over the last four years, and we will continue to be diligent in ensuring we adequately address parish and city infrastructure needs.
What are your thoughts of the transparency within and coming out of LCG?
Despite what is reported in some media outlets, my administration has been very transparent over the last four years. We introduced Open Checkbook, allowing anyone who wants to see every check that is written and every dollar spent by LCG. We’ve put thousands of pages of documents on our website related to major projects that are under construction. We launched Geaux Lafayette, allowing citizens to track and monitor our road projects throughout the parish.
Every project we undertake is done through a public process, and each project is subject to discussion and approval from the councils, legislature or both depending on the funding source. All projects are bid through the public procurement process as required by law. I also do a weekly radio show where citizens can call-in, email or text in questions or comments. After every council meeting I go on another radio show to discuss items pertaining to those meetings. We will continue to work to ensure the public has access to their government.
In your eyes, what is the status of economic development within Lafayette and Lafayette Parish? What is the level of focus that is needed for the economic development within Lafayette and Lafayette Parish?
Lafayette’s economy is the strongest and most diverse it has ever been. When economies across the state, country and world were shut down due to COVID, my administration found ways to keep our businesses open. We implemented the Safe Shop program, allowing businesses to keep operating while maintaining a safe environment for both customers and employees.
We worked with our partners at LEDA to establish a Business Recovery Grant Program to offset losses resulting from the pandemic. These steps, combined with an aggressive approach to economic development, have resulted in Lafayette currently having a record low 2.8% unemployment rate. Along with thousands of jobs being created in the last four years, Amazon completed and opened their fulfillment center, Safe Source set up their headquarters and manufacturing operations, LHC completed a significant expansion project, and national and regional chains decided to expand to Lafayette like Top Golf, Dave and Busters, The Chimes and Superior Grill.