Surviving a hurricane with Tony Guillory (S3E12)

First you have to love the title of Tony Guillory’s office, Police Juror, Calcasieu Parish. They do things a little differently in Louisiana. One of the things they must do is deal with hurricanes. Tony talks about what it’s like to live through one and her destruction all around you.

Thanks to our sponsors:


Tony Guillory: Good government is when you can help people from whatever situation. There’s a lot of people out there that need his help, and that’s what when they put you in these positions, that’s what you’re supposed to do is as your people. I think that’s part of our good government. A lot of people think they always can do a better job as is.

Yes, I guess that’s just part of the business. Everybody think they can that you made them mad at one point as some so needing to run against you so everybody feel they can do a better job. You can’t do anything alone. Some have been able to get up there and work well with others. Some have not been able to give them work.

Where we learn to sew is just you have to get in and be able to work well with others. When I had a class reunion, they’d be like, What the heck? I might want to take myself. They say, But you know, you’re doing a great job. No, I think from walking, knocking door, it’s almost like I say a again, but with my family and everything.

It kind of just kept inspired me to know that way.

David Martin: So listen closely. You’re about to hear a conversation with a genuine Louisiana Cajun, Tony Guillory is a police juror from Calcasieu Parish, which is Lake Charles, Louisiana. That’s about 3 hours west of New Orleans. Two things. First, I met Tony because, well, he stands out. He was sporting his Mardi Gras crew jacket, which features the outline of Louisiana and gold and, of course, his Mardi Gras beads.

But as he will explain, he is the first police juror I ever met. Louisiana is in many ways a state apart. State and local government in Louisiana actually goes back in part to their early French influences. And the state retains some of those early French traditions. It’s also the only state was parishes there, the same as counties, just a different name.

Tony’s an active member of the government and he wears a lot of hats. He’s the past president of the executive board of the Louisiana Police Jury Association and past vice president and president of the Black Caucus of Louisiana Police Jury Association. He was also a member of the association’s Community Development Committee and their criminal justice committee here in Naco.

He’s vice chair of the Economic Development Subcommittee. One of the issues he deals with is storm preparedness. Living in Louisiana, Tony has had to deal with his share of hurricane damage and how to prepare for the next one. As you’ll hear, he knows what it’s like to be in the middle of a hurricane. So let’s meet and have a conversation with police juror Tony Guillory.

That’s coming up on the good government’s show right after the break. The good government show is sponsored by NACO. That’s the National Association of Counties County Government. It’s actually the oldest form of government in the United States, and it touches more people directly. Roads, highways, hospitals, schools, recycling law enforcement, water and sewers in most of the country. Those services are maintained by the county that’s county government.

Naco is a nationwide organization that represents all 3069 counties across the U.S. Naco helps county government work better together through things like sharing best practices. Because when county government works well, well, that’s just good government.

So thanks for talking with me. You are not a county commissioner, but could you introduce yourself and tell us what you would tell us what your title is?

Tony Guillory: My name is Tony Guillory. I’m from Louisiana, Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is about 3 hours away from New Orleans. And I’m a police juror. Louisiana is the only state that the local police juries in parish government areas. We have parishes and everybody else have counties.

David Martin: Now, I’ve known Louisiana is the only state with parishes I did. Other states have parishes and they sort of drop them. Or is it unique? Louisiana?

Tony Guillory: Louisiana, I think because we begged a Napoleon law or something. It was way back in the 1900s. And when it was to do was to go out and police the area.

David Martin: Yeah.

Tony Guillory: And then they eventually called it police jurors. So that’s they tell me that’s how I came.

David Martin: Okay. Is is parish government difference in county government?

Tony Guillory: No, it’s the same.

David Martin: It’s the same thing.

Tony Guillory: We’re dealing with the same issues.

David Martin: Just a.

Tony Guillory: Drainage, whatever.

David Martin: Just a.

Tony Guillory: Different.

David Martin: Name. Now. Correct me if I’m wrong. Is Lake Charles Cajun country?

Yes. Sorry. Are you a real Cajun?

Tony Guillory: Yes, I got. I got a mixture of everything in me.

David Martin: Really?

Tony Guillory: Yeah. From Indian to everything.

David Martin: So these are the. The real Cajuns?

Yeah. Came in and hit the swamp.

Tony Guillory: Yeah, that’s. That’s the area. Lake, Louisiana is the area.

David Martin: Tell me about Lake Charles.

Tony Guillory: Eight are about 200,000 of people in the surrounding area of the whole parish. Lake Charles is about an hour away from the shoreline of Cameron, which is the Gulf of Mexico.

David Martin: Right.

Tony Guillory: So, you know, hurricanes and all that, we are right there with it when it happens.

David Martin: So what’s the issue that you’re dealing with the most down there? What’s the what’s the what are the things that you’re having.

To focus on?

Tony Guillory: Well, one of our major issues in Lake Charles right now, as far as too, is drainage. We’re trying to get drainage taken care of because, you know, drainage have occurred, of course, all over the place because people are building and you don’t have normal landscape and, you know, normal. That’s where the water would go in. So now people are building, so it’s making water flow industries more and making making flooding.

David Martin: How much of your district is actually below sea level?

Tony Guillory: Well, actually, in the New Orleans area, which is about 3 hours away, is more toward below sea level.

David Martin: Right.

Tony Guillory: We’re not really below sea level where we’re at. But as you go down toward New Orleans, as below sea level.

David Martin: Okay. But it’s most of your parish is above sea level, Right. Any flooding from the Gulf, are you too far inland to wait?

Tony Guillory: Too far? The only time flooding has occurred is like storms. Okay, start.

David Martin: Is that something that you are constantly dealing with? Is storm preparedness and tidiness?

Tony Guillory: Well, now seem like it’s more often. We had one back 50 years ago was before they had another wind and now seem like we’re having one every other year. We had just recently I was the president of the of Calcasieu Parish, Lake Charles and I went through two storms within a week of each other. We missed it.

David Martin: I don’t texts social services.

Tony Guillory: We we missed it there. When it turned during the night and went to Texas, we had to get three within two weeks and we had an ice storm. I had an ice storm and I had a freeze all in one town and in about three months.

David Martin: How do you prepare for that?

Tony Guillory: Oh, storms is a mainly we try to, you know, like any other situation around the whole United States, try to at least get people out of the way, get them to go and try to help they stay. There’s a lot of people that do stay. Unfortunately, I we try to make sure that they have enough food and candles and everything, because most of the time there is no power.

Like the last time we had Hurricane Laura knocked out. I think the energy company told me it can be compatible. 600 miles of wire and I think 1200 poles.

David Martin: Yeah.

Tony Guillory: Throughout the whole city. So we was down for a while.

David Martin: You live down there? I don’t. I know this is a common occurrence. What makes people stay when they know they should go?

Tony Guillory: Well, I guess Mr. Dave, did you know.

David Martin: I’ve never.

Been called Mr. Dave, by the way. Thanks.

So, listen, before you go any further, we’ll get back to that a bit. I just got to explain what you you got your Mardi Gras beads on?

Tony Guillory: Yes.

David Martin: You got your your captain’s uniform on.

Tony Guillory: Yes.

David Martin: And what attracts you to, I noticed, is you have this big outline of the state of Louisiana on one shoulder.

Tony Guillory: I got the.

David Martin: Saints on the end of the.


Tony Guillory: I got the Saints.

David Martin: You are doing some mystery walking for Louisiana. Yes.

Are you born and raised Louisiana your whole life?

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Your family as well? Yes, sir. All right. Yes, sir. Well, I’m a little city about.

Tony Guillory: But an hour and a half of Lake Charles called Opelousas.

David Martin: Yes.

Tony Guillory: Our blues is kind of is more Cajun, French more. Yes, they they speak it fluently.

David Martin: Now, there are people that where they speak Cajun French. You don’t understand.

Yes. Really?

Tony Guillory: Yes. Imagine how they they can say something, you know, and they haven’t talked to younger generations, which is why I’m calling myself the younger generation.

David Martin: Good for you.

Tony Guillory: But I know they could speak. They speak is is not a Spanish, French or anything. Of course, you could understand it if you speak Spanish, but it’s just kind of a broken up French.

David Martin:Is that does that make a challenge governing that that region, that area with sort of a diverse population of folks that kind of want to be.

Left because.

Tony Guillory: Because some of the jurors that serve do speak it?

David Martin: Okay.

Tony Guillory: Yeah. So some of the jurors that served Newsweek so they could name but walk the walk and talk the talk.

David Martin: Okay. So. So they’re well represented either as police jurors. Yes, sir. Okay.

And I’m sorry. We let’s get back to the question I asked you before I had diverted to your previous. What makes those people stay?

Tony Guillory: Well, the one thing that makes me stay myself, I guess, toward anybody else is that.

David Martin: You stuck it out your home during a hurricane.

Tony Guillory: I actually stayed during every storm we had. Why? Well, because for one, I was the president and I kind of had to stay around.

David Martin: Okay.

Tony Guillory: And we had a building that was pretty, pretty strong because this was the strongest hero cane ever to hit the states. It came in at 180 miles an hour. So it did a lot of damage in Lake Charles.

David Martin: And where were you?

How was it.

Passed over your.


Tony Guillory: I was in a building and I was thought I was going to die.

David Martin: Did you really?

Tony Guillory: Yes. I mean, because the building was squeaking and the windows sound like it was about to open out or, you know. It was kind of scary.

David Martin: Who are you there with?

Tony Guillory: A lot of parish officials. Not a lot of parish government.

David Martin: We all sort of look at each other going, I hope this is a good idea. All right.

Tony Guillory: And, you know, I obviously, I was there again. I was there again because the first thing the next morning I do is get up and try to go see where people are. Right. You know, and see if there’s anything that you know, because during that time, a lot of, you know, the power’s out. So a lot of stores might call me and say, hey, come get this me, go pass it out now.

Go to some assembly, I’ll get some barbeque pits. I got free meat.

David Martin: So it’s important to sort of be there for the day after, I guess.

Right. So to be there for the day after you got to survive the night off. Yes, yes, yes.

Tony Guillory: You got to survive it because it sounded like a train. Come in.

David Martin: Does.

Tony Guillory: It. Yes. Sounds like a freight train. And. And you can’t go outside because stuff is blowing all over the place. You know, everything. There was a building next to the building was in. It was like 20 stories, and you could just hear a glass popping out of it and everything makes money, all the glass. It went out of the building and.

David Martin: I’m not going to say, Were you scared? But I’ll say, Were you concerned?

Tony Guillory: I was concerned because unless the. Yeah, it’s kind of scary. Kind of scary.

David Martin: I bet.

Tony Guillory: Yeah. It came in like about two in. I can remember about two in the morning. So, you know, it’s, you know, you, you know, as I did, you did.

David Martin: Not sleep that night?

Tony Guillory: No, no.

David Martin: I understand why, as a government official, you might have to stay. But what about all those individuals who are home in their houses?

Tony Guillory: A lot?

David Martin: Why they why do they stay?

Tony Guillory: And we what we do, we to put busses together, school busses and everything to get them away. But some people just can’t they? Some people just.

David Martin: Can’t or won’t.

Tony Guillory: Well, both. A little of both.

David Martin: Why won’t they?

Tony Guillory: Don’t want to leave the house. Don’t leave their house. And, you know, like I tell everybody, you could have got blessed. Last arm didn’t get no damage, but you just don’t know. Each one of them has its own characteristics.

David Martin: Well, I mean, one of the things I’ve seen in the limited hurricane coverage I’ve done as a reporter is one house is fine. The house next to it is flat. Two houses across the street are flattened. Next to a house. That’s fine.

Tony Guillory: That’s not even one shingle.

David Martin: Right. So there’s no sort of rhyme or reason.

Tony Guillory: Right. And so, as you know, you might have got through some of them, but there’s so many, you know, making do all of.

David Martin: So what’s the biggest issue you were dealing with in Lake Charles?

Tony Guillory: Oh, like I say, the flood and flooding is the one one major area drainage. So we’re working on a lot of major changes. Actually, there’s one area that flooded out from the storm. And what they’re doing is they’re buying out most of the houses in the low back in. And we’re going to put a big detention pond, retention pond in the bank back there.

So they’re buying a lot of people out there right now. And that that came from the state of mind amount. And that has really been working, which is getting good money right now, like 120. A square foot.

David Martin: Yeah.

Tony Guillory: Yeah.

David Martin: So have you learned more about ecology and water management and land management?

Tony Guillory: Yes. Yes.

David Martin: What’s your background before you got into being a policeman?

Tony Guillory: I sold cars for 28 years.

David Martin: So you did? Yeah. What kind of cars? Toyota. Toyota. Toyota.

I used to have a RAV4.

Tony Guillory: Love to tell your car.

David Martin: Yeah.

So I guess you’re learning on the job every day.

Tony Guillory: Oh, yes. Any. Any type of government. You on the job every day learning different things. And I’ve been doing it for 60 years.

David Martin: What made you get into it?

Tony Guillory: Family. My family have always been in it. And I guess I’m hanging out with my relatives, knock on doors, and you know, see some good things that they was getting to accomplish. I was you know, that’s one of the things the family never pushed me. I was just so I just wanted to do.

David Martin: All right.

Well, this leads me right into our questionnaire. Okay. So now we’re going to talk a little bit about your thoughts on government. So what is good government to you from where you said as a police juror in Lake Charles, Louisiana, how do you define good government?

Tony Guillory: Good government? And I would say this would have to apply to just anybody. Good government is when you can help people from whatever situation. There’s a lot of people out there that need help. And that’s why when they put you in these positions, that’s what you’re supposed to do is help people. I think that’s what our good government.

David Martin: Just simply helping people, just.

Tony Guillory: Simply helping people.

David Martin: How do you know if you’re being effective? I mean, what’s your you know, what’s your yardstick? Holding yourself accountable to knowing that you’re giving people good government. How do you how do you monitor yourself?

Tony Guillory: Well, for my area and also other areas, I help other people in other areas when I see like major projects getting done, like drainage projects or million dollar drainage projects for one area to help move the water sort of people on flowing out, things like that, helping people from get in homes. We have a good home program. Someone that lives in a rental assistance housing unit is able to get into a house.

You know, they help them get into a house. They go through a three month course and help them get into a house. They help them with the down money upfront.

David Martin: And yeah.

Tony Guillory: So that’s another good thing for the part of our something in Lake Charles that we do for people.

David Martin: So when you see actual action, positive movement, that’s how you know.

Tony Guillory: Yes. Yes. When I ask if I feel good.

David Martin: So let’s talk about the people who put you in office, the people who voted for you and the people who didn’t vote for you. Right. How do they know? How should they know if they’re getting good government and how should they hold you accountable to make sure that you’re, you know, doing what you say you’re going to do, or at least in your words, helping people?

Tony Guillory: Well, they should hold everybody accountable. That’s in politics in any type of forum like that. I do believe that the people trust in me and know that I have did what I said I was going to do by helping people so they keep me elected. Me, I say that. That’s all we term limited. I say every time they go to the polls with term limits, they have a right.

They can vote us out every time.

David Martin: So if people feel like they’re not getting good government, what should they do? What should people know.

Tony Guillory: If you’re not getting immunized, satisfied with a particular person or issues and they just, you know, just cannot do anything? The best thing to do is, of course, try to put somebody else there, you know as well. Yeah, that’s the only thing. If you just feel like, you know, a person, don’t call you back. Don’t do anything, don’t go out.

David Martin: Vote them out. Get the bums, get the bums out.

Tony Guillory: Get them out.

David Martin: Should they run themselves?

Tony Guillory: A lot of people think they always can do a better job as is. Yes, I guess that’s just part of the business. Everybody’d think they can that you made them mad at one point assumption that you run against you so everybody feel they can do a better job.

David Martin: So yeah.

Tony Guillory: You know, it’s just a part of it. They.

David Martin: Have you seen people who have said, Oh, I can do this better.

Come out.

Of nowhere, get elected and actually do a better job.

Tony Guillory: It, no matter what it takes out, is 15 jurors.

David Martin: Okay.

Tony Guillory: You can’t do anything alone. Some have been able to get up there and work well with others. Some have not been able to get in work. Well, we learn to. So it’s just you have to get in and be able to work well with others.

David Martin: That’s the key to being a good right.

You got to make.

Sure that you’re at least like Charles.

Tony Guillory: You got to be able to work with not just.

David Martin: As an elected official, as someone who’s been in office for, I think you said six years. What would you like people to know about how government works?

Tony Guillory: Government is a slow process. You people think that it can just get done right now. You know, I need you to go clean my ditch. I need you to do whatever. This is a process that has to go and it takes time on me. So I just want people to know that of any area. Will they say that?

Just be patient. And if they gas up, Major, I’m sure that that person could be working all year. Just takes a little time. But you have to follow up and make sure that person is doing it.

David Martin: Do you want them to follow up with you?

Yes, sir. Why?

Tony Guillory: So I can keep make sure with myself.

David Martin: Yeah.

Tony Guillory: That I’m on top of it. And also just I can have an answer for you.

David Martin: Is there a difference between someone who is. You know, why didn’t you? Why didn’t you? And another person who’s, like, just holding your feet to the fire? Other.

Tony Guillory: Yes. Yes. As a lot of that, you know, you said I matter of fact, I just had a call from a guy, actually a friend of mine. He just called me. Man, the the water is yellow this week, you know, So, yeah, they I told him I knew about it. I knew about it, and they was working on it.

It was raining and cleaning out some lines and everything like that. So. But yeah, he holds my closest friends owe me more than anything, and I don’t know why I still got them around, but they.

David Martin: When you have serious does it make it hard to go.

Have dinner with friends or just.

Meet at the bar and they like.

Tony Guillory: Yeah. Because they will, they will make sure they’re out there. I hope that they hold my feet to the fire.

David Martin: I said, Hey, Tony, what’s going on?

Tony Guillory: Yeah.

David Martin: I thought you got to fix this last month.

Tony Guillory: I mean, like, can we just come have a beer? No, but no, that’s. You’re 24 hours when you’re in government, so it’s a natural thing.

David Martin: So who’s your political hero?

Tony Guillory: You know, one certain individual that I wouldn’t know. But as to some of my family members who I know who have done some great things, is in the House and know on the Senate side and state and the so those would probably be some of my greatest heroes.

David Martin: And those are the people that inspired you to do this yourself.

Tony Guillory: Right.

David Martin: That’s a good hero to have.

I guess it worked. It rubbed off. Here you are. Yes. All right.

All right. Now, here’s a great question for you.

Tony Guillory: Okay.

David Martin: Louisiana Cajun country, What is your favorite dish? You’re from your region, in your area?

Tony Guillory: Well, you know, we’re big on crawfish.

David Martin: Yeah, we.

Tony Guillory: Big on crawfish. Jambalaya is one of my one of my best jambalaya.

David Martin: In that way. But by crawfish and Barcroft. Does that mean you make it? Yes.

Tony Guillory: Yes, yes. We we actually had a an event in Washington, D.C.. Well, we wanted to do a Louisiana hospitality suite. Right. And we wanted jambalaya and we got updated gravy in one pot and meat and stuff in another.

David Martin: But yeah, with.

Tony Guillory: Jambalaya, you put it all.

David Martin: Together. All together. Right?

Tony Guillory: So, you know, the Louisiana flavor is a different flavor. Everybody look. Hey, look at me as somebody. You know Louisiana. But I love the ball. Crawfish and everything.

David Martin: What do you cook at home?

Tony Guillory: Some. Everything. Lemon. Everything from seafood. You could be right there. Closest.

David Martin: You got all the family coming over on Sunday. What do you make of it?

Tony Guillory: Look, I mean, we do we did a rooster. Rooster gumbo that a day. Yeah, we did a pig feet and tried together.

David Martin: How is that? Yeah.

Tony Guillory: And also, like, we did a wow. So we cooked in Louisiana. You run over. We we, we we eat every day.

David Martin: All right, All right.

Well, I’ve. I’d love to be in.

Louisiana sometime on a Sunday.

When you you sort of touched on this a little bit. But, you know, growing up, did you think you were going to get into politics? I know you said your family was part of it. No, You didn’t know. Were you like the president of your high school class?

Tony Guillory: No, Really, my my. Clinton, I had a class reunion. They’d be like, what the. Hey, what the heck? My cell is a but, you know, you doing a great job? No, I think from walking knock on door it’s almost like I say it again with my family and everything. It kind of just kept preparing me to go that way.

David Martin: But it was nothing you ever thought.

Tony Guillory:  Oh, I’m going to. Do that. No.

David Martin:
Wow. Okay.

Tony Guillory: No.

David Martin: So let’s bring it back to good government and what you do. Give me a really good example of of good government that you’ve actually had a hand in in Lake Charles.

Tony Guillory: Oh, I can tell you they did. My last major project was $1,000,200 of doing a big drainage project and is one of the areas because these people houses was it was the water wasn’t coming in yet, but it was like right at the.

David Martin: Door, right.

Tony Guillory: On major rainfalls. And we just did a project in one area and spent I spent 1,000,002 and it has really helped that area. Water is flowing better. It don’t water still come up, but it don’t go all the way up to their door. It might just come up a little bit in the yard and then go down.

David Martin: That’s better than coming to your door.

Tony Guillory: The building coming to the door, especially when it’s like an inch away from the door.

David Martin: All right. Well, listen, this is this has been great. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Tony Guillory: Thank you.

David Martin: Day Thanks for stopping by. And I look forward to having somebody.

Tony Guillory: Come Louis Kind of Louisiana. Look us up.

David Martin: All right, we’ll do Thank you. Day. Thank you.

Kutztown University is a smart choice for Pennsylvania students or students from anywhere looking for an outstanding college experience close to home. And in the heart of Pennsylvania, with over 130 majors, CU has endless academic opportunities. Kutztown also offers plenty of on campus housing 24 seven dining options. Comprehensive support services to ensure our students success and so much more.

Kutztown has 22 NCAA Division, two sports teams and a nationally recognized men’s rugby team. How about that? Plus, you get it all with the affordable tuition of a state university. So visit Kutztown dot edu on the Web, Kutztown dot edu, and see why it’s good to be golden.

Wow. So that’s what it’s like to be at the center of a hurricane. But I guess when you’re the president of a police jury, as Tony Gilroy of Calcasieu Parish was, it’s really important to be in the center of the storm. It was a good conversation with some good insight into how to prepare and survive and revive your community after a storm.

So join us again on the Good government show and we’ll have another conversation with another leader in government who will share their thoughts on good government with us. So thanks for listening. I’m Dave Martin. Join us again for a conversation with another government leader on the Good Government Show. The Good Government show and a conversation with is produced by Valley Park Productions Jim Ludlow.

David Martin and David Snyder are the executive producers. Our editor and producer is Jason Stershic. This is a good government show. Thanks for listening.


**This transcription was created using digital tools and has not been edited by a live person. We apologize for any discrepancies or errors.