UPDATE: Paul Eason announced June 12 that he will not run for mayor-president. Read his letter here.
City of Youngsville Chief Administrative Officer Simone Champagne told state politics newsletter LaPolitics she is running for mayor-president of Lafayette. Champagne served as the District 49 representative in the Louisiana House from 2008 to 2014; she was the first and only woman to serve that district (Iberia and Vermilion parishes) in the House.
Champagne did not immediately return a call to her office or Facebook message seeking comment for this story. She faces confirmed candidates Carlee Alm-LaBar, who has no party affiliation, and Republicans Josh Guillory and Nancy Marcotte (who is expected to formally announce any day now). Also contemplating a run is Paul Eason, a longtime independent who changed his party affiliation to Republican in recent weeks. Eason tells me he has met with Alm-LaBar, Guillory and Marcotte to discuss their vision for the city-parish and campaign platforms and plans to visit with Champagne Monday before finalizing his decision; he also says more candidates may be joining the field. “I’m really pleased with the openness and honesty of all the candidates so far,” he says. “I always want to hear all sides of an issue.”
Republican Joel Robideaux announced in April that he would not seek a second term. Qualifying is Aug. 6-8. The election is Oct. 12.
In early 2011, Champagne, a Republican, ran for the state Senate in a special election, losing to Fred Mills. She was easily re-elected to a second term in the House that October, but — after confirming in 2013 that she would not seek a third term — ended up vacating the seat a year early to join Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter’s administration. A former banker, she had served as CAO for Iberia Parish government from 2002-2007.
Echoing sentiments from the campaign trail in previous bids for office, Champagne told LaPolitics (subscription required) Thursday that she will be campaigning on the idea of bringing fiscally conservative policies to City Hall: “There is a growing anti-tax coalition in Lafayette Parish who finds themselves at odds with a tax and spend government. … I want to be their voice and champion lower taxes, making much better use of the funds that are already there to improve drainage and roads.”
An official campaign launch is planned for early June, according to the political newsletter, which also reported that Champagne had hired veteran fundraiser Sally Nungesser and consultants Chris Comeaux and Rachel Hammac of Brave New Politics. Hammac’s LinkedIn profile indicates that she also is a fundraiser for Nungesser Consulting.
Reached by phone early Friday afternoon, Comeaux confirmed he is working with Champagne but said the campaign would not comment beyond what LaPolitics has reported.