||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
|Lester Joseph "Joey" Durel, Jr.|
|Mayor of Lafayette, Louisiana, USA|
|Preceded by||Walter Comeaux|
April 3, 1953 |
|Spouse(s)||Lynne Miller Durel (married 1973)|
|Children||Three children, Nicole D. Hebert (born 1975), Jason Durel (born 1977), and Natalie D. Broussard (born 1982)|
Lester Joseph "Joey" Durel, Jr. (born April 3, 1953) is the mayor of Lafayette, Louisiana. Elected in 2003, he became only the second Republican mayor of Lafayette, Louisiana, and the second person elected as "City-Parish president" of the combined City of Lafayette and Lafayette Parish government. A small businessman, Durel had never before sought or held political office.
Durel was unopposed for his second term as City-Parish president in the jungle primary held on October 20, 2007.
Early years and family
Durel was born in Lafayette to Lester J. Durel, Sr. (born 1921), and the former Iris Massicot (born 1924). The senior Durel formed the first "Durel's Pet Shop" in 1951, and the business remained in family hands until all the outlets were sold in 2004. Durel, Jr., graduated in 1971 from Our Lady of Fatima High School in Lafayette. Thereafter, he attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then the University of Southwestern Louisiana). In 1975, he procured his bachelor of science degree in business administration.
In 1973, Durel married the former Lynne Miller, also a Lafayette native. They have three children: Nicole Hebert (born 1975), Jason (born 1977), and Natalie (born 1982). Oldest daughter Nicole and her husband Tommy Hebert have given Lynne and Joey two grandchildren, Hannah (1999) and Meredith (2000). Natalie and her husband, Patrick Broussard, have three children, Braxton (2007), Hudson (2009) and Madison Lynne (2011). The Durels are Roman Catholic.
Durel's business pursuits
A month after he graduated from college, Durel went to work in the family pet shop and opened a second outlet in 1976. He met a private payroll every year until his election as mayor-president. His entrepreneurial spirit led him into several other businesses as well, including Arby's Restaurants. At one time, he managed some 150 employees in eight retail stores. In 1996, he was named the "Sam Walton Small Businessman of the Year."
Durel is a graduate of "Leadership Lafayette Class X" and "Leadership Louisiana." In 2001, his peers named him chairman of the board of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. Durel was appointed by former Republican Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., to the Small Business Task Force and is the past chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee of Lafayette. He has also been active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He is secretary of the board of South Louisiana Community College – and is currently on the UL-Lafayette Athletic Advisory Committee.
Durel becomes a Republican
Durel registered to vote as a Democrat in 1971, when he turned eighteen. He was hence among the first young people directly impacted by the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 1978, he switched affiliation to Republican. Two years later, Lafayette elected the conservative William Dudley "Dud" Lastrapes, Jr., as the city's first Republican mayor since Reconstruction. Lastrapes served from 1980–1992, when the office reverted to Democratic occupancy. Durel hence reclaimed for his party the mayoralty-parish presidency, combined as a result of a popular referendum.
The election of 2003
The position of City-County Parish President is term limited – a maximum of three four-year terms. Incumbent President Walter Comeaux, a Democrat, declined to seek a third term, and supported fellow Democrat Glenn M. Weber in the election, which was run under Louisiana's unusual jungle primary, held on October 4, 2003.
Durel (the only Republican in the field) led the jungle primary with 41 percent of the vote, compared to 29 percent for Weber and 19 percent for Floyd Domingue (also Democrat, and a land man; one who obtains land for oil drilling rights), received 19 percent of the ballots. Three lesser candidates divided the remaining 11 percent.
Durel and Weber hence went into the general election held on November 15. Durel won with 34,806 votes (52 percent) to Weber's 32,113 (48 percent). The mayor-presidency vote mirrored the gubernatorial totals in Lafayette Parish. Republican Bobby Jindal received 34,951 votes (52 percent) to Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco's 32,734 (48 percent). Blanco won the governorship but lost her home parish of Lafayette. Durel trailed Jindal by only 145 votes in the parish, and Weber trailed Blanco by 621 ballots. On the surface, there appeared to have been relatively little ticket-splitting in the two Lafayette Parish races. After his defeat, Weber became the director of the Lafayette Association of Retarded Citizens.
Asked how he won the mayor-presidency as a candidate without previous experience, Durel said: "Having never run for political office, it was a new experience. It was a total family effort in the decision to run and in the race itself. . . . The decision was not easy given the perception (and a little reality) of politics in Louisiana. Our attitude was to become part of the solution; so if we didn't get involved, we had no one to blame but ourselves. It also took the support of the many great people in our community that wanted nothing more than to see Lafayette be given the opportunity to grow and to prosper."
After succeeding to office with no opposition, Durel's second term continues to one of progress for the city and parish of Lafayette. With strong support from all facets of the community, Durel is able to move forward thinking initiatives to reality. He has been awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Boy Scouts and has won national awards and recognition for his Fiber To The Home initiative. The Independent Weekly has praised Durel for his visionary leadership because of his support of the Arts and Cultural community in Lafayette. In an editorial dated August 4, 2010, Walter Pierce said that he has trouble praising politicians and especially Republican politicians, but that Durel has earned it. This was a result of his support of the arts and primarily because of his efforts to preserve 100 acres in the center of Lafayette for a passive park that would be enjoyed for generations to come. See the entire article at http://www.theind.com/re/6689-our-new-old-chief-exec
CEO of the Year
The 2010 Acadiana To 50 Companies Business Business Luncheon was held at the Lafayette Cajundome and Convention Center, where the top businesses in region were honored. In a surprise move, the CEO of the Year was awarded to City-Parish President, Joey Durel. This event is hosted by the Independent Weekly which has both criticized and praised Durel over the years. It was stated that he doesn't need his ego stroked and has taken courageous and visionary steps in moving Lafayette forward. An obviously surprised Durel gave credit to the business community stating that the success his administration has achieved was simply a reflection of the strong and vibrant business community in attendance at the luncheon.
In September 2010, Joey Durel removed sitting members of the Lafayette Housing Authority (LHA) before a hearing to decide the members fate on the board was completed. For his actions, Durel was nearly charged with contempt of court  by Fifteenth Judicial District Court Judge Edward Rubin. The LHA board members that Durel dismissed were later re-instated by Judge Rubin  in a decision critical of Durel's excessive influence over the process. However, since then, HUD has taken over the troubled housing authority that was wrought with corruption, in fact, is now being required to pay back $2.9 million. As it turns out, Durel has once again fought against corruption regardless of the consequences to himself. In August 2011, Joey Durel submitted a budget utilizing Redflex red light camera revenues of $1.3 million in order to overcome a government revenue shortfall . This was in spite of a local law stating that all red light camera revenue be used for improved traffic safety projects. The red light camera revenue will be used to pay for government salaries, health care, and operating expenses in the city's Traffic and Transportation Department. The council agreed, and voted for his suggestion, unanimously.
1. http://www.klfy.com/Global/story.asp?S=9029031 2. http://www.klfy.com/Global/story.asp?s=6619857 3. http://www.theadvertiser.com/article/20091121/NEWS01/911210340/Systems-paying-off 4. http://www.theind.com/content/view/4203/1/ 5. http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/21/2191.asp 6. http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/01/southern_gop_leaders_to_meet_i.html 7.http://www.legistorm.com/member/97/Sen_David_Vitter.html 8.http://www.theind.com/content/view/4968/73/ 9.http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201010130313 10.http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201010160314 11.http://www.theind.com/news/8148-tif-tiffs-go-beyond-lafayette 12.http://theadvocate.com/home/571430-79/budget-taps-camera-fund.html#comments
Walter Comeaux (D)
|Mayor-President of the Lafayette, Louisiana, City/Parish Consolidated Government Lester Joseph "Joey" Durel, Jr. (R)