Local Politician Lives In Sharp Hall

February 8, 2002

Julia Scirrotto, <i>Hullabaloo</i> Staff Writer

Five suits hang from Cade Cole's closet in Sharp Hall, but he rarely wears them. "If you go into a board meeting and everybody's in a suit and you're in blue jeans, you're more in touch with the average person," he said.

Cole, an 18-year-old Tulane College freshman, is no stranger to board meetings; he has sat on the Drainage Commission in Calcasieu Parish since being appointed to the position in October 2001. He is the youngest person to hold office in his home parish, located in southwestern Louisiana, and one of the youngest public servants in Louisiana state history.

"It provides an income supplement, if nothing else, for a poor college student," Cole joked about his position. A quick glance at his resume, however, reveals that local government and politics have been important to Cole for years. He has worked for the State Legislature in Baton Rouge since his junior year in high school, first as a page and later as assistant sergeant at arms.

Through his work for the state, Cole built a positive reputation and established valuable connections, which later helped him receive his appointment to the drainage board by local government officials. The Drainage Commission is responsible for maintaining ditches, pumping stations and levees in swampy Calcasieu Parish, an area prone to flooding.

As a commissioner, Cole directly oversees operations in the parish's Sixth District and helps initiate measures to prevent future floods.

"I try my best to help the people in whatever way possible, but it's not always easy when you're trying to move water that naturally should be where it is," he said. As the youngest of five drainage commissioners, Cole has worked hard to earn the board's respect. Early on, Cole recalled, "they were very leery of me being there."

With years of experience in state and local politics, however, Cole proved himself both competent and capable of effecting change. He highlights recent progress toward a new pumping station as his greatest success to date. In an upcoming commission election, Cole hopes to be voted president or vice-president of the board. While his peers on the Drainage Commission have families and careers to balance, Cole has a different set of responsibilities as a full-time student.

Currently undecided, he plans to major in Political Economy at Tulane. He is registered for 16 credit hours this semester, with all of his classes held on Tuesdays and Thursdays to leave weekends free for business-related travel to Baton Rouge and Calcasieu Parish. Cole enjoys broadening his horizons at Tulane, both academically and through extracurricular activities, but sometimes finds it hard. The University's foreign language requirement has proven especially challenging.

"This southern drawl does not go well with Spanish," he said. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Cole admits that balancing several activities, a job and school can be difficult. "I try to moderate my activities," he said. "I don't throw myself into one thing at the neglect of others."

On campus, he chooses his commitments carefully, making time for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, the Housing and Residence Life Finance Board and volunteer work. He also serves as treasurer for the campus chapter of College Republicans. Chris Meyer, president of College Republicans, called Cole a "really great resource" for the organization and values the freshman's connections within local and state government. Cole sees campus involvement as an integral part of a college education and encourages other students to become more active in the Tulane community.

"A whole lot of learning goes on outside of the classroom," he said. "The University here is a good place to get involved." Despite his extensive list of responsibilities, Cole sees nothing exceptional in his busy schedule. He reflects humbly on his accomplishments: "I have a little job, I do it, and I try to do it well."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000