New Iberia Mayor Address Survey Critical of City
Last week, we published a report about a survey that ranked New Iberia as the 10th-worst small city in the United States.
That survey elicited reaction--positive and negative--from New Iberia residents. Some agreed, while many others vehemently disagreed--some to the point that they called on a boycott of this station for reporting the findings.
On Thursday, Mayor Freddie DeCourt responded to that survey.
"They don't know what we have going on or the things that are coming or the way we are addressing the issues that we have," DeCourt said summarizing his thoughts on the survey.
He says the survey failed to take into account everything his city has to offer.
"I think you have to look at a community with a global few," DeCourt said. "If you take a few stats and run with that and do some quick comparisons to a community you've never visited, I think they left a lot on the table.
DeCourt says he's not running from any of the problems facing New Iberia. In fact, DeCourt says he, his administration, and the city council are tackling those problems head-on.
"Do I realize that my community has issues? Every small town has issues," DeCourt said. "The only reason I'm here--that I left my businesses which I still run and that one day I'll come back to--the only reason I took this job is because we have issues. I think that if you live here, you know our history, our rich culture, you see our diversity, (and) of course you see our issues. I'm not sweeping anything under the rug. I'm not a whiney guy. You fix your issues. We are in the process of fixing many of our issues.
DeCourt pointed to several positives that are happening now.
"We built a new police department, and our (crime) stats are getting better," DeCourt said. "You look at our roads. The council and I had to get our finances straight before we could float a bond. We just floated a $12.5 million bond. We're on our streets. That's something that will happen very soon next year.
DeCourt also pointed to the business community and non-profit groups who are helping the city and its people find work and get out of poverty.
"I know that 20-percent-plus of our community lives below the poverty line," DeCourt said. "It's a stat I'm not proud of, but it's a stat that's been with us for a long time. How do you deal with that? You deal with that by expanding your community and your economic opportunities. We've opened 150 new businesses in the last three years, and more are on the way. The (Port of Iberia) just landed a big fabricator and construction company that brought more than 1,400 jobs alone."
DeCourt says he's using the negative publicity from the WalletHub survey as a positive. He says his office is creating a media campaign to share New Iberia's good news with the rest of Acadiana and the world. He says the stir caused by the study is a good thing because it's rallied his New Iberia's residents to defend the city in public.
"I am proud of everyone of them (who defended the city on Facebook)," DeCourt said. "I'm using that as a catalyst. Let's take that imaging, and let's put that into our problems. Let's put that into the good as well and market our community. I wouldn't be on your radio station if it didn't come out. So it's not all a bad thing."
To hear the full interview, click the icon below.