Mayor Tim Kerner of the small community of Jean Lafitte in lower Jefferson Parish is an example of what the best in a public servant looks like. Tim Kerner’s daddy was also the mayor of Jean Lafitte, so you might assume they have a dynasty. But it’s not a dynasty of power. It is a dynasty of public service providing leadership in a community characterized by a spirit of self help and generosity.
While Lorna Bourg and Helen Vinton were talking to Mayor Tim on one of several visits to Jean Lafitte, a lady came up and said, “Mayor, we need ice, we need water, there is no electricity.” He listened to her so patiently. And then he moved closer to her, and he took his arm and put it around her and hugged her. And he said, “You are absolutely right. Now let me tell you what we are doing.” It was something to see how he comforted her. All the time he was getting water and ice for her.
A Spirit of Self Help
It was an incredible scene to observe how these people were helping each other with no help from the government and just a little help from nonprofits. The Mayor had relief efforts so well organized. The community was helping itself with some assistance from non-profits. People were coming to the city hall to get ice and water and other supplies that had been donated.
Coffins In Front of a Restaurant?
Mayor Tim continued to show his extraordinary leadership by getting his staff to go with him to a little unincorporated town called Lafitte where they repaired the graves in the cemetery. Due to the floodwaters, about 50 tombs had broken out of the ground and were in front of a restaurant. Mayor Tim and his crew cleaned and returned all of those tombs to the cemetery.
Why Did Mayor Tim Run Helen and Lorna Out of Town?
When Hurricane Rita hit, the entire area was devastated again, and the residents of Jean Lafitte and the surrounding communities had to start all over. In the midst of this tragedy, the Mayor Tim’s father died. He had just buried him when Lorna and Helen arrived on another visit to the town. Mayor Tim was obviously exhausted.
Lorna said, “Mayor, if there was something Southern Mutual could do to help you, what would it be? If there were three businesses that we could help restore, what would they be?” He said, “They wouldn’t be in my town. They would be one mile south of here in Lafitte.
If we could get those three restaurants up and running, they would hire people from my town. We could have food in our area. We could have tourists coming back, and the shrimp boats would have a place to sell their shrimp.”