Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter, along with challengers Sean Ardoin and Jesse Bernard, officially qualified for the March 20 election Wednesday, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website.
Hunter is serving his first term as mayor after winning an April 2017 runoff election against Wilford Carter. Ardoin, a Grammy-nominated zydeco musician, announced his candidacy for the mayor’s race at a press conference Jan. 13.
Hunter is a Republican. Ardoin and Bernard are both Democrats.
Standing on the grounds of the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse, Hunter said he is seeking reelection because Lake Charles needs “tried and true and tested leadership” to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and to continue recovering after Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
“The average citizen is going through a lot,” he said. “I don’t know in Lake Charles’ history if we have ever had as much happen to us in one year as it did in 2020.”
Providing residents with adequate housing remains the city’s biggest issue, Hunter said. He said the slow pace of FEMA’s temporary housing plan has been frustrating, but it has picked up speed in recent weeks.
Hunter said he wants to continue pursuing lakefront development projects that are on hold because of the hurricanes and COVID-19, including Port Wonder and the Crying Eagle restaurant and microbrewery. A groundbreaking for both projects was scheduled two weeks after Hurricane Laura’s Aug. 27 landfall, but was postponed.
“Those things are happening; they are funded,” he said. “However, they are on pause right now because it makes no sense to break ground on a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic. But we have worked so hard on those projects.”
Hunter said his first term has delivered economic districts in the city’s underserved areas. He mentioned the Acadian Ambulance national emergency medical services training center on Enterprise Boulevard in the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District.
“That’s not just empty promises,” he said. “Those are concrete projects that we made happen. We want to see more of that.”
Hunter mentioned the money spent during his first term to clean out the city’s underground drainage system and to pave roadways.
During his Jan. 13 press conference, Ardoin said his goals are to get Lake Charles on pace with cities like Lafayette and Beaumont, pursue lakefront development and entice tourists to visit local businesses.
Bernard said some of the city’s needs include fixing its roads in order to boost business and increasing wages for residents struggling to pay monthly rent.
Ardoin and Bernard are both political newcomers.
Qualifying for the Lake Charles mayor’s race ends at 4:30 p.m. Friday.