Councilman-elect, 18, ready to begin work for his district

John Dupont
Iberville Councilman-elect Raheem T. Pierce poses in front of the Iberville Parish Courthouse.

One month after his win in the Oct. 12 primary election, District 6 Iberville Parish Councilman-elect Raheem Pierce says he has moved from celebration to preparation.

Approximately two months remain before Pierce – who turns 19 on Jan. 7 – takes office as the youngest parish official in Louisiana.

"It's exciting right now, but reality is setting in," he said.

Pierce drew 60 percent of the vote in a four-candidate race. He ran for the seat held by Councilwoman Courtney Lewis, who had missed every meeting since April.

Lewis did not seek re-election, but Pierce said her absence from the council played a major role in his decision to run for office.

"I want to bring transparency and accountability back to that district," he said. "That was my main focus when I ran for the council."

Pierce grew up in a family involved in public service, most notably his cousin Yolanda Laws, who holds a seat on the Iberville Parish School Board. He said he has attended public meetings for years.

Pierce admits it's rare for a person less than a year removed from high school graduation to seek public office.

He knew he would someday pursue a role in public service, although he admits he never imagined it would come so soon.

"I like helping people, I like to serve my community, and I decided I wanted to do it in an official capacity," the 2019 Plaquemine High School graduate said. "I always thought I'd run for a public office, but I thought it would be later in life.

"But when I turned 18, I decided there was no need to wait," he said. "I put my name in the hat and went for it."

Pierce said he was no stranger to his community, but he bought signs and walked the streets in the traditional grassroots campaign approach.

"Even on the day of the election until the polls closed, I walked the street, but it paid off for me," he said.

His district extends from the True Hope Lane area to Seymourville and part of "The Fort," an area to the immediate east of La. 1 South.

Pierce wants to bring more recreation to the youth of his area and expand the scope of activities for elderly residents in his district. He said he has been in talks with the Iberville Parks and Recreation District to improve to facilities in his area.

He also plans to push for a community center for his area to host public meetings and gatherings, much like other areas have with COPAC or the Carl F. Grant Civic Center, but on a smaller scale.

On the parish level, Pierce said he wants to work with the council and Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso to push for a Mississippi River Bridge in the area between Plaquemine and White Castle.

He also considers roads, drainage and economic development among his chief priorities once he takes office.

"I represent District 6, but we still have to look at the parish as a whole," Pierce said.

He has held meetings with residents in his district, and he plans to implement quarterly "town hall" meetings with his constituents once he takes office.

Pierce considers the districtwide meetings the best way to serve his constituents.

"That's all part of my plan to be accessible and transparent," he said. "How would I know what the people need if I'm not available or not reaching out to them?"

He hopes his generation will take an active approach in public service and community awareness.

"I'm trying to spread the word to get involved, register to vote, let their voices be heard and maybe even run for office," Pierce said. "Anything is possible.

"As for myself, I'm ready to get to work," he said.