Friday afternoon, just after 4:30 when qualifying for municipal elections in the City of Gonzales officially closed, I was overcome with emotions; a mix of overwhelming gratitude and poignant humility that a fourth term as your mayor was reality. It has been the honor of my life to serve my fellow citizens since 2009, blessed to win three contested elections, and this time without opposition.
As my first order of business as Mayor-Elect I hereby thank Gonzales’ First Lady, my loving wife Betty without whose support and affection I could not have endured this journey. Her incredible patience and unwavering belief in a flawed man has been vital to any success we have enjoyed.
I take this opportunity to congratulate Chief Sherman Jackson whose steady hand has steered our wonderful police department with professionalism and common sense often lacking in these turbulent times.
Congratulations, also, to Councilmen Kirk Boudreaux and Tyler Turner who were not opposed. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve alongside them both.
Allow me to indulge the luxury of reflection on the journey which led me to this moment. Upon graduation from East Ascension High School I joined the United States Marine Corps where life lessons were taught which have impacted every day of my life thereafter. It led me to law enforcement, fully intending to spend my entire career “protecting and serving” the people of Gonzales and Ascension Parish. Many of you may remember my tenure as Gonzales’ Police Chief and my years of work at APSO. After retiring from 27 years in law enforcement, I believed that God always had a plan for me to continue my service to the community. This time it was in the governmental field.
At the turn of the last century I went to work as Ascension Parish’s Planning Director in President Harold Marchand’s administration. Politics and fate intervened soon enough; and I took a job as former Congressman Charlie Melancon’s local liaison in 2005.
From that position I was encouraged to seek the office of Gonzales Mayor in 2008. The prospect of following Mayor Berthelot was a daunting one, especially when his last administration left nearly $30 million in capital improvement projects on the books. Half-a-decade later, countless man-hours devoted by hard-working employees and ultra-supportive city council members, and we finished every one of those capital projects.
The foresight of my predecessor and earlier councils set Gonzales up for success. Our ability to provide wastewater treatment, made possible by our delivery of water from new facilities, has allowed Gonzales to thrive economically. Construction of new Police Department headquarters, providing our officers and firefighters with the best equipment, has ensured the security so attractive to commercial investment.
Along with all our dedicated employees, police and firefighters are owed a debt of gratitude. Without them we could never maintain a level of public service, and delivery of services, of which we are all proud.
That commitment to the residents of Gonzales will never waver, even as we cope with a pandemic and a climate of divisiveness nationally. A belief in each other has allowed the city to endure better than most. That is why, of all the titles I have held over the years, the one of which I am most proud…
Citizen of Gonzales
Thank you all.
Mayor Barney Arceneaux