Joey Durel

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Joey Durel
Joey Durel 2010.jpg
Mayor-President of Lafayette, Louisiana, USA
In office
2004–2016
Preceded by Walter Comeaux
Succeeded by Joel Robideaux
Personal details
Born Lester Joseph Durel Jr.
(1953-04-03) April 3, 1953 (age 64)
Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lynne Miller Durel (married 1973)
Children Nicole D. Hebert (born 1975)
Jason Durel (born 1977)
Natalie D. Broussard (born 1982)
Profession Businessman

Lester Joseph Durel Jr. (born April 3, 1953), known as Joey Durel, is the former mayor of Lafayette, Louisiana. Elected in 2003, he became only the second Republican mayor of his city 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. He ran unopposed for his second term as City-Parish president in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007.

Personal life[edit]

Durel was born in Lafayette to Lester J. Durel and Iris (née Massicot) Durel. His father 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 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), from which 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.[citation needed]

Business career/affiliations[edit]

A month after he graduated from college, Durel went to work in the family pet shop and opened a second outlet in 1976. He worked in several other businesses as well, including Arby's Restaurants. At one point, he managed some 150 employees in eight retail stores. In 1996, he was named the "Sam Walton Small Businessman of the Year".[1]

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. He was appointed by former Republican Governor Foster to the Small Business Task Force and is the past chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee of Lafayette.[2]

He has 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[edit]

Durel registered to vote as a Democrat in 1971, when he turned eighteen. In 1978, he switched affiliation to Republican. In 1980, Lafayette elected Dud Lastrapes, as the city's first Republican mayor since Reconstruction. Lastrapes served from 1980-92, 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.[3]

The election of 2003[edit]

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 nonpartisan blanket 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"; i.e. one who obtains land for oil drilling rights), received 19 percent of the ballots. Three other candidates divided the remaining 11 percent.[4]

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.[5]

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. Durel 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.[citation needed]

CEO of the Year[edit]

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 Durel as City-Parish President. This event is hosted by The Independent Weekly, which has both criticized and praised Durel over the years. The paper's columnist Walter Pierce praised Durel in an opinion piece titled "Lafayette's top elected official is earning a hardy pat on the back".[6]

2nd term[edit]

Durel testified before Congress about municipal broadband. In September 2010, Durel removed sitting members of the Lafayette Housing Authority (LHA) before a hearing to decide the members fate on the board was completed. For this, he was nearly charged with contempt of court[why?] by Fifteenth Judicial District Court Judge Edward Rubin. The LHA board members that Durel dismissed were later re-instated by the judge. Since then, HUD took over the troubled housing authority that was wrought with corruption. The housing authority is required to pay back $2.9 million. The Louisiana Supreme Court overturned Rubin.[6]

3rd Term[edit]

Durel became the first person elected to serve as Lafayette City-Parish President for three terms, the maximum allowed by the local governing charter. He hoped the mechanism would help fund a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport. This came to fruition as the tax-financing plan to build a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport — an eight-month parish-wide sales tax (a whole year of collections was not needed) that will be levied beginning in April and is expected to generate more than $35 million of the roughly $90 million cost of the new terminal. Voters embraced the plan, approving it with 59 percent of the vote on December 6.[7]

Durel was succeeded as Mayor-President in 2016 by former State Representative Joel Robideaux, an Independent-turned-Republican. Durel received the BI Moody Award from Junior Achievement.[8]

Post-political career[edit]

Since leaving Louisiana politics, Durel has made a career in real estate.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  2. ^ "Southern GOP leaders to meet in N.O. in 2010". Nola.com. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-04. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  4. ^ "Speed Camera Vendor May Have Falsified Documents". Thenewspaper.com. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  5. ^ "TIF tiffs go beyond Lafayette". Theind.com. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Our New, Old Chief Exec". Theind.com. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  7. ^ "This is it: Durel delivers final SOTP address". Theind.us3.list-manage.com. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  8. ^ "No. 1 Lafayette ‘salesman’ Joey Durel humbled by Moody award". Theadvertiser.com. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  9. ^ "Ex-Lafayette City-President Joey Durel goes into real estate". The Washington Times. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
Preceded by
Walter Comeaux
Mayor-President of the Lafayette, Louisiana, City/Parish Consolidated Government

Lester Joseph "Joey" Durel, Jr.
2004–2016

Succeeded by
Joel Robideaux