Candidates for Avoyelles Parish Sheriff make one last pitch to voters ahead of Election Day

In Marksville, a debate for Avoyelles Parish Sheriff proved to offer up four distinct candidates in this election.
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 11:39 PM CDT
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AVOYELLES PARISH, La. (KALB) - In Marksville, a debate for Avoyelles Parish Sheriff proved to offer up four distinct candidates in this election, all with different perspectives on dealing with the parish’s key issues.

Election Day is less than two weeks away and candidates for Avoyelles Parish sheriff had one last opportunity to make their pitch to voters at a debate hosted by the Tunica Biloxi Indian Political Action Committee (TBIPAC).

In arguably the most pressing issue for sheriff’s offices statewide, candidates were asked if they would strengthen penalties and contributory charges for fentanyl. All emphasized that yes, a tougher approach was needed, some aiming for a corrective approach while others had more than a few harsh words.

“Anyone who will sell and give fentanyl and opioids to someone and cause death will be arrested and charged. I will pursue contributory charges,” said Harold Pierite (D), Tunica Biloxi police chief.

“These drugs are destroying our communities. They’re destroying our people because they’ll get education and they’ll get on drugs and they’ll lose their careers,” said incumbent Sheriff David Dauzat (R).

“Train them. Let’s have some programs. I’d like to get some programs to the people who want to come surrender themselves,” said Sean Mayeaux (NP), a former Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s deputy. “Why wait until something happens?”

“The drug dealers in this parish, I’m gonna be as fair as I can to you. I’m telling you now. I’m telling you right now. July 1 of next year, if I take office, you probably should be not living in this parish anymore because I’m coming after you,” said Todd “T-Goo” Gaspard (R), a former Louisiana State Trooper.

As recruitment remains difficult for many police departments in the state, from big cities like New Orleans to smaller, rural departments, candidates were asked how they would increase the department’s numbers. For some, that means providing more monetary assets.

“We’ve issued our people brand new equipment with vests, tasers, body cameras,” said Dauzat. “We are buying ammo for them. We’re doing a lot of things to support our deputies and to bring professionalism.”

“We’re gonna train them very well. We’re gonna pick up the officers’ presence. We’re gonna look at their pay, and if it’s not too good to attract them or to help benefits, we’re gonna improve them,” said Mayeaux.

For others, recruiting means reaching a different pool of people to fill the roles.

“I think we should recruit kids from today. I know we can’t put an 18-year-old out there with a weapon and him go out there and police. Put him in dispatch for a while and let him learn all facets of the department,” said Gaspard, arguing that young recruits should rise through the ranks of APSO over time.

Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 14.

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