Conservative Commentator Michael Lunsford Pushes Back on Criticism He’s an “Outsider” Who is “Meddling” in Lafayette Parish Politics.
For several years now, I’ve ignored criticism from a small but vocal group of angry liberals. They’ve been attacking my work as a pro-growth, pro-family, pro-business conservative and a proud Republican. It’s been their argument that I am an “outsider” who is “meddling” in Lafayette Parish politics. These things are said simply because I live just over the parish line in Breaux Bridge, near my wife’s aging mother, and because of my leadership role in the St. Martin Parish Republican Party.
After a recent, particularly unhinged screed by one of these folks, I decided it might be a good time to set the record straight. Contrary to everything these people want you to believe, the simple fact is – I love Lafayette. Unlike many of them who hail from places like Phoenix, Arizona; Chicago, Illinois; Austin, Texas; and Seattle, Washington; I was actually born here. I grew up here, went to elementary school here, graduated from high school here, met my wife here, and I work here. Our family owns property and pays taxes here to this day. What’s worse is the people who have been calling me an outsider have known all of this for quite some time. They just don’t want you to know it.
My Lafayette roots run deep
My family has been in Lafayette for over 60 years. I sincerely doubt my most vocal critics can say the same. William Lunsford, my grandfather, was an oilfield salesman. He and my grandmother followed the oil business to Lafayette from Houma in 1958. Poppa achieved great success as a salesman with an unprecedented new idea. The crew boat process took so long that most salesmen could only make one call per day. He acquired a pilot’s license and flew a seaplane to remote oil rigs. This would allow him to make numerous sales calls in a single day. Clients were so impressed, my grandfather earned their business and did quite well.
Both of my grandparents were active in the Civitan Club and were early supporters of LARC. They were also members of the Petroleum and Oakbourne Country Clubs. My grandfather retired from Gulf Coast Rental Tools in the 1980s. He spent many afternoons at the men’s grill in the Petroleum Club. I was brought along sometimes and we’d usually end up visiting the “secret room” above the grill. He’d tell the waitstaff, “bring the kid a Thing.” Depending on who I’m lunching with, I’ll sometimes order one just to tell them the story. The long-time staff members know all about The Thing, and ordering it usually brings a smile.
Dad’s history in Lafayette
My father, Larry Lunsford, graduated from Lafayette High in 1964. He was always interested in broadcasting and auditioned at KPEL when it was a big band station. His audition was to read a commercial for Toby’s Oak Grove, a high-class dinner club located across from Jacob’s at four corners. The reading didn’t go so well so he never got a call back. However, he did get a start in radio at KRVS. After a few hours of board time, he had enough experience to get a job at KVIM in New Iberia, which he remembers “paid pretty good” at $1.50 an hour. He was on the air from 6:00am until 10:00am, then ran to school at Southwestern.
After that, he worked at KSMB, “the golden voice of Acadiana.” He also worked at KTDY and KPEL when the stations were owned by Ron Gomez. During the Vietnam war he served in the Public Information Office of the Air Force as a journalist and broadcaster. That experience allowed him to transition into television. He and my mother married while he was still in the service. They returned home to Lafayette in 1971. In addition to being a reporter, photographer, editor and producer, he was News Anchor at KATC and then KLFY, where he worked alongside Blue Rolfes. I recently found a KLFY news intro featuring him from 1983 (see below).
I came along in the spring of 1973
Since dad was working in television, my birth at Lafayette General was announced on the evening news by local TV legend Bob Hamm. As he closed out the broadcast, Bob Hamm said, in part, “Larry Lunsford won’t be with us at ten p.m. He’s covering one of the biggest stories of his life: the arrival of his first born. The newest junior anchorman in the news field was born about two o’clock and weighed eight pounds. Karen is well, the baby is well, but we’re not sure about Larry. He tried to report on the situation and started off with, ‘Good ladies evening and gentlemen of the audio radiance.’ So we let him off tonight to pass out cigars, or just pass out, maybe…”
I remember the Acadiana Mall when it first opened. There was a huge water feature and waterfall in the center. It had a movie theatre, Aladdin’s Castle arcade, and a very large Burger King restaurant. I have the candy store in Goudcheaux’s to thank for my serious addiction to Swedish Fish. How many people remember tanking up at the mall’s very own gas station? If you didn’t know, it’s abandoned structure still stands on Acadiana Mall Circle, right behind the Barnes and Noble bookstore.
School for me started out at Ascension Day School, first at St. Barnabas off Camelia, then across Johnston Street from Borden’s Ice Cream. I criss-crossed between several private and public schools, attending, among others, Myrtle Place and Lafayette High, but graduating from Lafayette Christian Academy. My wife and I met at an LCA Homecoming football game. She’s a Breaux Bridge girl. So after we married, we settled just across the parish line in Breaux Bridge, near her mother. We still exchange weekly meals and spend time around her dining table, eating and visiting over a friendly game of cards.
We’re still here
As previously mentioned, the family still has property and pays taxes here. My office is right here in Lafayette, located in the beautiful and historic Gordon Hotel building on Jefferson Street. I’m deeply proud of my work as a pro-growth, pro-family, and pro-business conservative and profoundly grateful for the opportunity to serve in elected roles for the State and Parish Republican Parties.
So, after years of taking their abuse in good humor, it’s time to set straight these angry, loud, and strident liberals who call names, cast aspersions and question motives. You have no right to criticize ANYONE who cares about this city and parish; who works to help make Lafayette a better place; who wants Lafayette to be a better environment to raise a family or start and run a business; who was working to improve Lafayette long before you decided to wander into town from parts unknown.
To these wild-eyed, angry liberals, I’ll also like to add that we can and should work together to make Lafayette a better place. That’s not possible when you choose overtly contentious issues that only serve to divide the community. The only way forward is to find those areas in which we all agree and work to improve those things.
God Bless. #MAGA