Inside the transition to a new mayor-president

Lafayette Mayor-President-elect Monique Blanco Boulet celebrates her victory in the runoff election on Nov. 18, 2023. Photo by Travis Gauthier

The gist: A new mayor-president means a leadership overhaul at Lafayette Consolidated Government, and incoming M-P Monique Blanco Boulet is on a tight timeline to build a new administration before taking office in January.

▸ Blanco Boulet’s runoff victory has LCG preparing for its third new administration in as many elections, and the new M-P announced seven appointments Wednesday to serve as co-chairs of her transition efforts for the six weeks remaining before her Jan. 3 inauguration: 

  • State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux 
  • Blake David, attorney, LEDA vice chair 
  • Shawn Rhymes, attorney 
  • Chris Arsement, CPA  
  • Annie and Joe Spell, Tides Medical
  • Dr. Jennifer Jackson, Keystone Nutrition

That’s the first move the incoming M-P has announced, and it’s the first step in pulling together a transition team to assist with Blanco Boulet’s ascent to office. The total size and composition of that team haven’t yet been determined, but the new M-P says her goal is to put together a broad base of local leaders and engaged citizens to support the transition. 

Public input is a key priority, Blanco Boulet tells The Current, and her team launched a website Wednesday for input from citizens who want to serve or share their ideas. She is also looking to hold community town halls to inform her administration’s initial priorities, though the short, six-week timeline to do so is further limited by the holiday season.

Transparency and stability at LCG are top of mind for the new mayor-president, whose successful bid to unseat Guillory hinged heavily on turmoil during his term and his administration’s opaque responses to scrutiny.

A number of Guillory appointees may survive Blanco Boulet’s overhaul of top LCG staff for the sake of preserving some semblance of stability at City-Parish Hall, particularly with the Lafayette Police Department. LPD burned through five chiefs in just three years before Judith Estorge was appointed in October 2022.

Her campaign rhetoric suggests many department heads will roll. Particularly those closest to the departing M-P. That leaves Blanco Boulet and her yet-to-launch transition team with potentially a dozen critical roles to fill over the next six weeks, and they’ll be pulling from a shallow pool of talent as many of the professionals qualified to lead LCG’s various departments would have to leave higher-paying private sector jobs to do so.

▸ What to watch for: 

  • Public input opportunities: Blanco Boulet’s team will likely announce engagement plans next week.
  • Key appointments: The new M-P is expected to announce which Guillory appointees she’ll keep around and which positions her transition team is seeking applicants for relatively soon. 
  • Other officials: Being mayor-president means working with five other mayors and a handful of other parish elected officials, most of whom endorsed Guillory in his reelection bid this fall. Blanco Boulet has experience wrangling disparate politicians at the Acadiana Planning Commission, but the tone of her relationships with Lafayette’s other leaders is likely to be set early on.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Dr. Jennifer Jackson’s correct position. Jackson was as added as a seventh co-chair on Blanco Boulet’s transition team Wednesday evening.