Then & Now: Nancy Landry
May 31, 2018 09:47AM
● By Scott Brazda
“I believe there’s hope,” says State Representative Nancy Landry. “It’s always a slow, long process to change what’s entrenched. But it’s worth it: Even a minor change can change the future of a lot of kids.”
“The most powerful changes often start with something small.”
It’s been 10-years since the Lafayette legislator (District 31, representing parts of Lafayette and Vermilion parishes) graced the cover of FACE Magazine, but Landry tells me, she doesn’t think much has changed. “I’m still a lawyer, still a lawmaker.” But in terms of the latter, she still enjoys the process of changing our little corner of the world. “It’s a great job and I love it, a whole lot more than campaigning. It’s just a terrific way to keep in touch with the people, and then try to improve their lives.”
But Landry tells us the end is near, at least….of that chapter of her life. “I’ll be term-limited, but I am kind of looking forward to it,” she explains. Landry plans to work in her garden a bit, but there’s also a slightly more human element. “I have three step-daughters, plus I’ll get to see my sons (ages 24 and 21) a bit more.” Any grand-children on that end? “No,” she laughs, “but my oldest son did get a dog, so that’s what? My grand-dog?”
Landry attended LSU and then LSU Law School; shortly thereafter, she quickly went to work at establishing a system that would provide for lower-cost legal representation for those in need of help, but also lacking dollars. In addition, Landry began providing many services as a petroleum landman which, she says, allowed her to understand and thus support an industry so very crucial to the livelihoods of thousands of Acadiana residents.
She’s proud of her community, and particularly proud to have spent her formative years at Lafayette High. “LHS prepared me for so many things: College, law school. It was a very diverse school in the early eighties, and, being extremely shy as a teenager, really brought me out of my shell. My teachers were incredible, and the education I received at Lafayette High, both academically and socially, has really served me well, in my law practice and my time in Baton Rouge.”
Landry has taken her passion for education to Baton Rouge, where she serves as chairperson of the House Education Committee. “I really try to do what I can to try to improve the outcomes for our children, and I think we’ve done quite a lot in the last 10 years. It’s so very important to me to try to improve the educational opportunities for the children of our area.”
“As a parent of children who went to public school,” Landry continues, “I experienced the frustrations and battles to get a good education. I just see a lot of opportunity, and we need to find a better way to help these children.” The frustration is genuine. “Education is just as important as healthcare; it just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. We’ve got to do more, and must continue to search for answers. We can never, ever lose sight of why we’re doing this, and that’s for the kids.”
With that comes the discussion of academic choice, of what schools a family should have available to them. Landry is adamant that the possibilities for all students should be broadened. “Your zip code shouldn’t determine the choices you have in the school you attend,” she remarks. “We don’t choose our dentist or doctor based upon zip code, so why do we accept that it is ok for our students to be placed based upon their zip code?”
Acadiana’s legislative component is a strong one in Baton Rouge, believes Landry, and has been able to affect positive change in a number of areas. The camaraderie and respect is there; regardless of the occasional ideological differences, she says they work together as much as possible. “We’ve got a great group of lawmakers, and we get along very well. Our delegation does a lot, and are true leaders, in both the House and the Senate.”
So, again, Nancy Landry’s run as one of Acadiana’s state representatives is almost over; but does that mean her ability-desire-need to make a difference is over as well? “Oh, I see myself staying involved,” she says. “I can’t see myself not being involved, Scott. At the very least, I want to help to elect good people who will take things to the next level.”
By: Scott Brazda
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