District VII seat to be contested between first time candidates

Michele DeBruler and Daniel Dugas

Two Luling residents and political newcomers will challenge for the council seat in District VII as Republicans Michele DeBruler and Daniel Dugas square off over the next several weeks.

Born and raised in St. Charles Parish, Dugas has worked for the parish government in several capacities – in drainage, recreation and wastewater departments. Currently, he works for Bayer in District VII.

“I’m here for the people and here for the long haul,” Dugas said. “I would like my kids to have the same chance to grow up and live in a prosperous community like I did.”

Dugas said there are issues to address in planning and zoning, recreation and waterworks that he hopes to help solve were he to be elected. Reducing flood insurance and homeowner’s insurance rates is another hot button.

“The argument from FEMA not recognizing our levee protection system – I have to question how one federal entity build a levee and another federal entity not recognize that levee,” Dugas said. “Where does that disconnect come from … is that our council, or our state representatives? Because what was the point of spending millions of dollars on a levee and infrastructure if it’s not recognized?”

Dugas also served as a volunteer fireman for eight years with the Luling Fire Department and was named 2010 Firefighter of the Year.

I’ve always been in public service and on the volunteering side of this community. To be a councilman, to me, is a chance to be in position to do good for people and my community as opposed to sitting on the sideline waiting for someone else to do things.”

DeBruler was the principal of Mimosa Park Elementary School for 17 years, and in all has spent 25 years in administration as a school principal or vice principal. She retired from the school system last year and was the longest tenured principal in the history of MPE.

The Chalmette native made St. Charles Parish her home after joining the school system and she and her family live in Luling, which she said reminds her of where she grew up.

“Luling is just a very close knit, small community, just like Chalmette was,” DeBruler said.

Helping the parish maintain that reality while also implementing plans to spark and further economic development is one of the goals she has were she to be elected – something she began thinking about a year ago after speaking with District VII Councilwoman Julia Perrier, who will vacate her seat after reaching her term limit.

“She asked me if I’d be interested in serving on the planning and zoning commission – I did and really enjoyed it,” said DeBruler. “That got me really thinking about my future because I know I’m not a person who likes to sit home.”

DeBruler has not run for office before but believes the experience she does have via her background as a principal – managing employees, working within a budget and finding avenues for funding – makes her uniquely suited for the council.

“One thing people have always told me is I have a knack for talking with people and listening,” DeBruler said. “That’s crucial as a principal and it’s crucial as a council member. You need to understand what messages people are conveying to you and understand the resources that are out there.”

DeBruler believes there are ways the parish can potentially better maximize its recreation facilities to further economic development. Maintaining and increasing public safety and fighting to reduce insurance costs are also key elements she would like to help address as a potential council member.


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