Get to Know Louisiana House District 44

   
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Ahh, to be unexpected. This just might be the very last place anyone would have thought we’d have a look. However, the magic sauce is public interest. Believe it or not, I’ve personally received numerous queries on this all-Democrat race. District 44 is a significant “majority minority” district, with about 66% designated as minority and 33% designated white. It’s also what I’d a call a “leans Democrat” race with 55% registered as Democrats, 16% Republican, and 29% “other parties.”

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we keep dossiers on most notable citizens in and around the state. Our oldest and strongest data is right here in the Lafayette area. Add to this, all three of the candidates in this race have big hits in our dossier database. So, if nothing else, this should be a fun exercise.

Pat Lewis

Pat Lewis

Pat Lewis, District 1 Lafayette City Councilman

Of the three candidates, Pat Lewis (D 3/10) actually has a real-deal scorecard on our website. This is by virtue of his being a sitting member of the Lafayette City Council, which was one of our early prototypes for our Legislative Scorecard and Senate Scorecard. Pat has mostly been a nice guy on the council. He returns calls and emails most of the time, and otherwise will stop and have a chat if he bumps into you around town.


However, just because someone would make a great dinner guest does not necessarily translate into being a good lawmaker. Pat Lewis (D 3/10) has a history of using government influence for all kinds of things the government should have nothing to do with. Specifically, he’s engaged in the culture war, and consistently on the LGBT side of things. He voted to declare Lafayette a gay city in both 2021 and 2022.

Zero fiscal responsibility

As to fiscal responsibility, he voted to give $1.5 million out of the city treasury as a “loan” to a private business enterprise on the edge of his district. We’ve written about that “Lafayette Bottle Art Lofts” boondoggle multiple times. He also supported giving $4.2 million in taxpayer money to build a RaceTrac gas station on Louisiana Avenue. He also supported the creation of five new “special taxing districts,” raising 6¢ in new taxes on the community he purported to represent without allowing them to vote on it. Let that sink in for a minute. he didn’t raise 6¢ in new sales taxes in River Ranch, he did it in the poorest, minority communities in Lafayette.

He also used his voting power on the city council to transfer seized properties to political operative Chris Williams. If that names sounds familiar, it’s because he runs United Ballot, a PAC that endorses Democrat Candidates for Public Office. In spite of this favor, Chris Williams instead chose to endorse Pat’s opponent for House District 44.

Pat also voted to install Kenneth Boudreaux onto Lafayette’s Police and Fire civil service board, in spite of a huge conflict of interest.

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Tehmi Chassion

Tehmi Chassion

Tehmi Chassion is the District 4 member of the Lafayette Parish School Board

The race for House District 44 also includes School Board Member, Tehmi Chassion. Rather unexpectedly, Tehmi Chaisson was the recipient of Chris Williams’ “United Ballot” endorsement. More on that later.

The catalyst for our organization forming was a school tax, which Tehmi supported. However, our website is newer than that battle, and so searching for Tehmi here will return zero results. As the District 4 school board member in Lafayette, he shows up all over our database, but for humdrum things in the school board meeting minutes.

We know Tehmi is a well respected pharmacist in his community. My personal experience with him has been pleasant, too. Like Pat Lewis, Tehmi Chassion returns phone calls and emails. He did join with a unanimous school board in 2017 to vote for the unnecessary $238 million in new taxes. Also joining with a unanimous school board, he voted in favor of Erick Kenzek’s LGBT bullying policy in 2019 (item 4.1). That policy was effectively rescinded by the very next board vote (item 4.2), which Chassion also voted in favor of.

Unfortunately, the nature of the Lafayette School Board is to vote pretty much unanimously on everything. However, Don Aguillard’s special taxing district was one vote where all members did not agree. In that vote (top of page 5), Tehmi Chassion supported putting a new property tax on the ballot.


Ravis Martinez

Ravis Martinez

Ravis Martinez, running for House District 44

If you want to search for old Ravis on our website, you won’t be disappointed. He’s one of the grifters that cliqued up with the Northway Taxing District, by way of Pride Opportunity Developers. That’s the additional 1¢ sales taxes they put on the Home Depot located on the Evangeline Thruway, near I-10. It’s one of the “special taxing districts” that Pat Lewis (D 3/10) created in the minority community on “the north side.” So, Ravis jumping into this race (against his friend Pat Lewis) seems odd to me.

It’s good to remember that the Chris Williams / Kenneth Boudreaux clique has only ever opposed Pat Lewis. Based on our knowledge of with whom this group associates, one might have the mistaken notion that Ravis Martinez would have been the beneficiary of the United Ballot endorsement. Perhaps Kenneth and Chris know something we don’t about Ravis.

I’ve seen Ravis around town, but can’t remember every having any deep conversations with him. In fact, I believe I see him every morning on my way into work. He’s standing all by himself near the intersection of Willow and Pierce Street waving his election sign. According to his website, Ravis is the local President of the NAACP’s Lafayette branch. He also lists a number of other organizations of which he’s a part. Oddly, he leaves off Sivarco Group.

Sivarco Group LLC / Ravis Martinez

The second member of Pride Opportunity Developers, the Northway Taxing District partner, is Sivarco Group LLC. That LLC’s exclusive member is Ravis Martinez. His LLC is registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office to a Post Office Box and a domicile address in Lafayette. However, pages 11 and 18 of a 2011 campaign finance report for Democrat Representative Vincent Pierre, Sivarco’s address is listed as a self-storage unit number in Houston, Texas. In 13 July 2012, Sivarco was registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State for the first time, and at some point appears to have had an office at the failed LITE Center building.

If one had to guess Ravis’ intention for getting into this race, his history of grift seems to be a strongest clue. It appears that he simply wants controlling advantages of increased taxes on the poor members in this minority community. However, he is civilly engaged and participates in the community. It’s just difficult to put a finger on any community improvement he’s actually accomplished. That’s saying something considering how long he’s been engaged in that effort.

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