Q&A with St. James Parish President Peter Dufresne

Peter “Pete” Dufresne won the October 2019 election for St. James Parish President in his second attempt at the office, securing 58% of the vote after narrowly losing the 2015 runoff by just 394 votes against Timmy Roussel. Dufresne owns his own trucking company (DUFECO) and has also worked as a sugar cane farmer. He worked with the American Sugar Cane League to lobby Congress on behalf of local businesses. He is a lifelong resident of St. James Parish who grew up in Gramercy and graduated from Lutcher High School in 1985.

 

When did you first realize you wanted to become parish president? What made you take the leap to submit yourself as a candidate?
As a young man, I developed an aspiration to serve through my grandfather, Ellis Bourgeois, who served as the Assessor of St. James Parish for many years. He loved this parish and its people. He taught us at a very young age to give and to serve. I have been self-employed since the age of 23. I made a commitment to myself that if I could build a successful business to pass on to my children, I would do that and then offer myself for public service. That time has come. My kids are dedicated and responsible enough to manage and operate our family business.

What are your main goals as parish president?
My main goals as parish president are to unite St. James Parish, to attract a variety of businesses to support the industry we already have, and to improve our infrastructure to accommodate healthy growth for future generations.

What are the biggest challenges you face?
Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge we face in St. James Parish is going to be flood protection. Both east and west banks have an immediate need for a long-term solution to this ever-increasing challenge we are facing.

What do you see as St. James Parish’s greatest quality? What do you see as its weakest?
Our greatest quality in St. James Parish is our people. Our ability to come together in times of crisis, whether it’s the need of an individual or an entire community. St. James Parish has no weak qualities.

How do you plan to work with the Port of South Louisiana to stimulate economic development?
I plan to be open-minded and to seek advice from the public, other government officials and agencies in order to develop a comprehensive plan for smart and healthy growth for our parish.

Do you have heroes in local/state/federal government you hope to emulate as parish president?
No one in particular other than my grandfather, Ellis Bourgeois. I aspire to lead St. James Parish with the honesty and integrity he displayed through his many years of public office.

What do you like to do when you’re not serving the parish?
I enjoy spending time with friends and traveling. I enjoy scuba diving and experiencing different cultures.

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