Jan 18, 2011 11:42 PM by Maddie Garrett

Final Candidate Forum for District 22 Race

Tuesday night was the last chance for State Senate District 22 candidates to get their messages out to a large group of people.

The Iberia Chamber of Commerce hosted the public forum at the Sliman Theater in New Iberia. Each of the six candidates were given a few minutes to answer pre-selected questions that the public had submitted.

Simone Champagne and Fred Mills are both currently Republican State House Representatives. They have been in the state legislature since 2008 and are now hoping to fill the District 22 Senate seat.

"I am the one to go to baton rouge and fight those deficits. Also about the moratorium on oil and gas as well as the federal mandates on health care we need to tackle all of those issues to help our jobs and our businesses grow," said Champagne.

Mills said his experience as a small business owner is what sets him apart from the other candidates.

"I feel my skill set is economic development and the growth of jobs and the growth of small businesses," said Mills.

Armond Schwing of Schwing Insurance in Iberia Parish is running as a Republican. And so is crop duster and pilot, Ken Squires. Both are new to the political scene.

"I'm coming in fresh, not taking it by the process, someone with new ideas and the mindset to go and solve the problems that we face as a state and a district," said Schwing.

Squires talked a lot about his knowledge in the aviation industry, and pushing the district for development.

"It's about jobs and industry and keeping the money coming home," said Squires.

New Iberia attorney David Groner is running as an independent. He said he is proud that he isn't part of the political scene in Baton Rouge and will use that to his advantage.

"I bring that indepenence and fresh face to Baton Rouge," said Groner.

And Ruben LeBlanc is also running as a no party candidate, but he is very active in the Tea Party. He spoke extensively on those core values and the Constitution.

"We are guided by the Constitution, we don't have to be guided by all kind of bills that we really don't have a way to support or defend," said LeBlanc.

The biggest issues at Tuesday's forum were jobs, the economy, and budget cuts. And almost all candidates agreed that they wanted less government involvement when it came to local business and economic development.

Election day in Iberia and St. Martin Parishes is Saturday, January 22. If one candidate doesn't receive 50% of the vote, a run off election will be on February 19.



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