Gubernatorial candidate Hunter Lundy shares his plans for state

Published 4:16 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

Lake Charles native Hunter Lundy said he brings a message of hope in his bid to be Louisiana’s next governor.

“People need hope and we need some change and we need improvements,” Lundy said. “We’re a wonderful state with wonderful people and interesting culture, but we’ve been talking about the same things for 50 years and we’re not doing anything about them. I’m a guy who’s going to do things and not talk about them.”

The founding partner and former CEO of Lundy, Lundy, Soileau, & South spoke with the American Press editorial board this week to share his vision for Louisiana’s future.

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“My calling has always been to help people who need help,” Lundy said. “Now I’m taking it from the courthouse to the capitol.”

Previously a Democrat, Lundy said he switched parties nearly 10 years ago because of stances taken by the national membership.

“I had always called myself a conservative Democrat who was pro-life and pro-Second Amendment but the national platform was such that I just didn’t want to have a ‘D’ in front of my name anymore,” he said. “I’m an independent and people always question that, but they don’t question my heart and they don’t question my motives. I’m probably more conservative than most Republicans.”

He said he also can boast a work ethic that none of the other candidates have.

“If you want to know about a history of working, I can give you a history of working,” he said with a laugh. “Nobody in this race will have the history I have.”

Lundy said he and his late older brother used to clean bricks for one to two cents a brick as boys before graduating to mowing lawns.

“We started cutting grass when I was 9 and my older brother was 11,” he said. “We each got on either side of the handle of a mower and we cut yards. I wasn’t big enough to push it.”

From there he got a paper route with the Beaumont Enterprise — earning Paper Boy of the Year when he was 14 — and then later threw the Lake Charles American Press’ afternoon edition.

While a student at McNeese he worked 6-10 a.m. at Kmart as a stocker, attended class 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and then went back to Kmart to finish a 2-6 p.m. shift. During the summer break, he also worked as a longshoreman at the Port of Lake Charles.

Hunter earned his law degree in 1980 from Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Miss. He was editor-in-chief of the Law Review and he served two years as law clerk to the Honorable Walter L. Nixon Jr., U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi. Hunter returned to Lake Charles in 1981 to practice law. In 1986, he began the law firm now known as Lundy, Lundy, Soileau, & South.

“On election night I’ll cancel the victory party. I won’t give the lobbyists time to mess with me. I’m not going to be bought and the politicians will run for cover because I’m going to call the session in and the things we’ve talked about the last year and half we’re going to get passed. I’m ready to take this bear on.”

One of the things Lundy said he’s ready to address is replacing the Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge.

“I can get on my high horse about that bridge,” he said. “That thing needs to be replaced and it should have been done a long time ago. What does government do in Louisiana? It waters down things, it delays things, it wants to change things. Now the joining span of the East Coast and West Coast is right here on Interstate 10 and people are at risk. I know bridge inspectors that don’t want to go over that bridge.”

He said he applauds the local delegation as well as Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson for their fight to secure the money raised so far for the bridge’s replacement.

“We should have had that money a long time ago, though, and we should have built that bridge a long time ago,” he said. “When I tell people I mean what I say, it means we’re going to do whatever we can within our ability to govern the state properly. We study, we study, we study, but we’ve got to act, we’ve got to do, we’ve got to perform. That’s where we missed the boat.”

Lundy said Louisiana is the LNG capital of the world while also maintaining the title of being the No. 1 poverty state in the nation.

“We can have all of the economic opportunity, and yet we still only have a mean income of $43,000 in Louisiana. Why? It’s because of generational poverty,” he said. “Sixty percent of our children go to public school just to get a meal. This has to be addressed. You can’t ignore the elephant in the room.”

Poverty can be fixed through education, he said.

“I want to move to the community school system where we bring education down to the lowest level possible,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of our parishes and our people in this state have common sense and a good moral compass. We have leadership that can lead. We do not need to run education out of Baton Rouge.”

He also said teachers should be allowed to teach.

“They’re too busy checking boxes,” Lundy said.

Lundy — whose sister, mother and daughter are all educators — said when education is fixed, the majority of Louisiana’s poverty will disappear.

“You need teachers who are willing to teach kids, but you also need teachers who are capable of teaching kids,” he said. “We’re going to make sure they have everything they need to take it on. Why shouldn’t we be excellent? Why should we compare ourselves to Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama? We should not. We should do better. When you have what we have, you should be at the top.”

He said the state allocates $13,000 per year per student.

“That’s more than what these other states allocate for their students,” he said. “We have the money, but we’re not using it the right way.”

Lundy said 84.8 percent of prisoners are released back into society. Of that number 30 percent will eventually return to prison. That means Angola (Louisiana State Penitentiary) needs “to be the biggest college in Louisiana,” Lundy said.

“If they come out of Angola or a prison of long-term capacity with an associate degree that 30 percent number drops to 14 percent; it changes to 9 percent if they have a four-year college degree,” he said. “Men and women don’t want to go back to prison. If they get out and they can get a job and get a place to live, they won’t go back. We’ve got to make it possible for that to happen.”

Lundy said he doesn’t listen to the naysayers and lets the numbers speak for themselves.

“We need to be changing lives,” he said. “Keeping people out of prison is another important tool in changing Louisiana’s economy.”

Lundy said he is a strict constitutionalist with a Biblical worldview.

“If we stick to the principles that we know, you’re going to see a change,” he said.

Lundy said he’s also a “consensus builder” who will listen.

“We have intelligent people in our state,” he said. “I’m not going to be one who rules, I’m going to be one who listens and one who governs. I feel like we have a movement coming on.”

Lundy said he’s also interested in promoting Louisiana as a site for hydrogen storage.

A $7 billion U.S. Department of Energy program is set to jumpstart six to 10 regional hydrogen hubs across the country. Each will be aimed at producing and distributing pure hydrogen that is thus far in short supply.

“Hydrogen and water makes electricity, you can run cars off of hydrogen. You can do a lot of things with hydrogen and it burns cleaner,” he said.

A major goal of the proposed hubs is helping to power industries and transport modes that are not easily electrified. Hydrogen can also be burned in an internal combustion engine similar to a gasoline or diesel engine, and conventional internal combustion engines can be converted to burn hydrogen.

“I have a vision for Louisiana and a plan,” Lundy said. “We can make a difference.”

He said he’s also a team-builder.

“I’m not going to pander to lobbyists and caucuses,” he said. “I’m not going to owe anybody other than a God-given ability to do the right thing. I don’t care if the idea comes from a Democrat, a Republican or an independent, if it’s a good idea, we’re going with it. I will build a team of people that are intelligent, have character and know what we want to do. We’re in it to win it.”