The Office of the Secretary of State has faced a few challenges this year, most notably the resignation of former Secretary of State Tom Schedler amid a sexual harassment lawsuit. Brusly native Kyle Ardoin stepped into the role of Secretary of State last week with plans for steady, passionate leadership.
Ardoin formed a personal and professional relationship with former Secretary Tom Schedler during his lobbying career. He jokingly sent a text after Schedler was elected asking if he needed a First Assistant and Schedler replied with a start date.
Upon Schedler’s resignation, Ardoin was installed as Secretary of State. He will serve in the position for the next eight months until an election is held in October. Ardoin said he does not plan to run for election, opting to lead for now and let the people pick the new secretary in the fall.
“I’m planning on running the office, not running for the office,” he said.
His stint as Secretary may be short, but his excitement is not. He noted the amount of work the office has ahead of it with introducing new voting technology, electronic storage of records, and an electronic notary.
“He has always been committed to doing his very best in whatever he has strived to accomplish,” Joanne Bourgeois, a former teacher, Brusly Council Member and life-long mentor to Ardoin, said.
Ardoin now lives in Baton Rouge but remembers fondly his time living with his wife Lettie Ardoin in the rental house under the Oak Tree in back Brusly. The house under the Oak was where he and his wife Letti Ardoin called home when they welcomed their only child Abigail into the world.
Like the Oak tree, Kyle and Lettie have deep roots in West Baton Rouge.
Kyle Ardoin is an alumnus of Holy Family School, Brusly Middle, and Brusly High School. His graduating class was the first to have an integrated prom in 1985, which is something he was proud to be a part of, he said.
“We grew up together, played ball together, everything. We thought, why are we having two events?” He recalled.
State Rep. Edmund Jordan and Ardoin played together on the Brusly Lions basketball team in a league separate from school. He grew up across the street from WBR School Board President Jason Manola, graduated with Brusly Town Council Member Shane Andre, and listed countless other connections to the West Side.
Ardoin said he runs into West Side friends all the time.
“The people of West Baton Rouge have never forgotten me, and I’ve never forgotten them,” Ardoin said.
Ardoin served on the West Baton Rouge Parish School Board for four years and ran in the first competitive election for Parish President, though he was not elected.
“He has served West Baton Rouge in many capacities and was always available to listen to the concerns, ideas, and suggestions of others,” Bourgois said.
His wife Lettie, a Port Allen native, followed by her father H.J. Monday Lowe’s footsteps as a CPA and Adjunct Professor in Accounting at LSU. Lowe was the CEO of WBR Bank and owned an accounting firm. Lowe was also elected as a State Representative and served as Treasurer of the Constitutional Convention of 1973. Lettie’s grandmother owned Port Allen Cleaners.
Despite their deep West Side roots, the Ardoin family moved to Baton Rouge years ago.
“We loved the West Side but the traffic became a lot like it is for everyone else,” Ardoin said.
Although they live across the river, the West Side is often still called their home.
“We may be the smallest geographical parish in the state but I’ve found West Baton Rouge people have the biggest hearts,” Ardoin said. “It is a wonderful microcosm of what the state of Louisiana offers: good culture, good food, and good people.”