Mike Michot, Senior Director of State Affairs for the Picard Group, a leading governmental affairs and lobbying group in Louisiana and Washington DC, joined Discover Lafayette to discuss his career of public service and community engagement.
Mike previously served the Acadiana area for 16 years, serving 12 years in the Louisiana State Senate after his initial one-term stint as Lafayette’s District 43 member of the House of Representatives. In his final term in the State Senate, he was chair of the Senate Finance Committee which directs funding for all aspects of state government; he also served on various committees including the Louisiana State Bond Commission, Senate Natural Resources, Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs, Vice-Chair of Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs, and House Labor and Industrial Relations.
Mike has also been active in private business, having previously owned and operated Premier Medical Equipment in Lafayette for 20 years. Generous with his time, he has served as a volunteer for many community service organizations, including the Community Foundation of Acadiana, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana, United Way of Acadiana, the Academy of the Sacred Heart School, and the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette’s Opus Christi Magnum fundraiser. Mike is also a graduate of Leadership Lafayette and Leadership Louisiana.
The seventh of eight children of the late Louis and Patricia Ann Smith Michot, Mike grew up watching his father accomplish great business and political success with a mindset focused on hard work and giving back to others. As a young boy, Mike remembers his father flying off in his own plane to take care of business, whether it was tending to his 45 Burger Chef restaurants or heading off across the state when he was elected to the Louisiana State Board of Education in 1968 and later elected in 1971 as Louisiana Superintendent of Education. The elder Michot also was involved in various endeavors as diverse as opening the first drive-in theatre in Lafayette on Pinhook Road to running the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce to serving Lafayette Parish as a State Representative to lobbying for the National Air Transport Association in Washington DC. For a wonderful look at the many accomplishments of Louis Joseph Michot Jr.’s storied life, please visit this Legacy site.
Mike Michot jumped into politics in 1995 when State Representative Don Higginbotham announced he would not run for re-election. After having grown up around his father’s influence in the political realm and having helped older brother, Rick Michot, run a three-parish race for 15th Judicial District Judge, Mike had valuable experience in campaigning. He won that race and then after one term, ran against sitting Senator Max Jordan and was also successful in that effort with the encouragement of the business sector.
His early time of service was during Governor Mike Foster’s regime with a pro-business bent. Mike looked back with pride on the many accomplishments during the first term of Gov. Foster when he was honored to serve, including passage of the TOPS program, teacher pay raises to the Southern average, and other business-friendly measures. This era also brought in term-limits which limit legislators to three terms in a particular office. During our interview, Mike spoke of the good and bad that comes along with a loss of political experience when seasoned legislators are prohibited from running again.
Mike reflected on how he enjoyed the bipartisan efforts to pass legislation during his time in office. At the time, the Acadiana Delegation worked with a broad group of regional legislators to get important legislation passed; the agenda was set by the needs of the region and not by party affiliations. He shared that people voted for their district’s needs first, and not along party lines as it is today. With the increased gerrymandering of district lines to ensure majority-minority districts, districts have increasingly become more Republican or Democrat, with fewer and fewer districts balanced out demographically or politically.
“I always encourage people who want to run. It’s a positive experience that teaches you what the issues are. Good people should run for office. Political life is the next level of public service after serving on boards and commissions and it’s very rewarding.”
Looking ahead to the 2021 fiscal Legislative session coming up on April 10, there will be billions of dollars infused into the state budget through the American Rescue Plan, so the session will be a busy one working through priorities for spending the funds. The Picard Group’s role in helping their various clients (ranging from UL-Lafayette, Acadian Ambulance, Ochsner Lafayette General, the City of Broussard, and many more) is to keep their eyes and ears on issues that affect their clients’ industries so that an effective response may be undertaken. With an impressive group of seasoned governmental relations personnel, currently including former Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckly, former Congressman Rodney Alexander, as well as Mike Michot and Tyron Picard, their clients have entrusted their interests to capable hands since the Picard Group was formed in 2011.
We can’t close without looking back on Mike’s career as a musician with his family band Les Freres Michot, an all-brothers Cajun band that was formed in 1986. Mike’s brothers, Rick and Tommy, the two oldest boys in his family, had originally played music in the style of Peter, Paul, and Mary, but pivoted to traditional Cajun music. The band has enjoyed a great deal of success and has even played in Poland behind the Iron Curtain. While the band is still active, Mike is no longer an active member, although he reminisced about his early performances playing the triangle before his brothers realized he could carry a tune.
A graduate of Cathedral-Carmel High School in Lafayette and UL – Lafayette where he earned a degree in Finance, Mike is married to Monique Broussard Michot and has two children, Michael Jr. and Mary Carolyn.
For more information on the Picard Group, visit https://www.thepicardgroup.com.