Retired Judge to Run for Vacant Lafayette City Court Seat
Two weeks after Michelle Odinet vacated her seat on the Lafayette City Court, her opponent in the 2020 election for that seat announced that he will once again run for the post.
Jules Edwards, a retired judge of the 15th Judicial District, announced on Wednesday that he will be seeking the Division A judgeship of the Lafayette City Court. He made that announcement before a crowd of supporters at the Cajundome and in a live video posted to Facebook.
Edwards ran against Odinet in 2020, losing by around 8,000 votes and seven percentage points (57 percent to 43 percent). In a Facebook post published hours before his campaign announcement, Edwards said many members of the community had called on him to get involved in the special election.
Prior to his run for city court, Edwards served as a judge in the 15th Judicial District Court from 1993 to 2020 and was the court's chief judge from 2001 to 2003. During his time on the district bench, he introduced drug courts and re-entry courts to help offenders turn around their lives and become productive citizens. His work in reforming drug prosecution and sentencing went beyond the courtroom. Edwards spent seven years working with the Louisiana Sentencing Commission to create uniform sentencing guidelines. He is also a member of the Louisiana Advisory Council on Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education and of the Louisiana Drug Policy Board.
Edwards, a veteran of both the United States Marine Corp Reserves and the Louisiana National Guard, says he will work to restore the community's trust in the Lafayette City Court and prove that the court will treat everyone fairly.
"People know me, and they know I have all the respect for every community of our city," Edwards told his supporters at Wednesday's announcement. "That's what I am bringing to the table. The fact the people know that I will treat them fairly."
Edwards will run on a similar platform to the one on which he ran in 2020. Specifically, he wants to bring some of the same programs he launched in the district court to the city court.
"I think it's important that we work to prevent the misdemeanors becoming felonies before they become felonies," Edwards said. "We can get these people before they cause harm to the others and themselves.”
So far, no other candidates have announced a run for the vacant city court seat. By law, Governor John Bel Edwards must call the special election. According to the Secretary of State's Office, the deadline to call that special election is June 22. That election is expected to be called and set for the November 8 election. A runoff, if necessary, would take place on December 10. Qualifying for the race would take place July 20, 21, and 22.