Holden and Walker at odds over state of the city-parish
BATON ROUGE - As Mayor Kip Holden announced to the Rotary Club, "the state of the city and parish is strong," Mayor Pro Tem and mayoral candidate Mike Walker looked on as he waited to spell out the problems he said he'll fix as the next mayor.
Walker officially announced his candidacy in front of friends, family and supporters, saying, "eight is enough," refrencing Holden's tenure as mayor.
Walker compared the city's crime problems to New Orleans by asking this question, "are we allowing the culture of crime, the erosion of education and a lack of job opportunities to suck the very life out of the parish?"
Holden disagreed, citing a drop in violent crime and murder over the past two years. The mayor touted his accomplishments since 2008, including sales tax revenues from the movie industry, Bayou Country Superfest and the national bowling competition going on now, all of which generated hundreds of millions of dollars.
Walker pointed out a need from educational reform, a need to re-connect to Baker, Zachary, Central and the un-incorporated areas, and a need to give small businesses more opportunities like many larger companies have received in the past. But his main focus was crime.
"I will work closely with our law enforcement agencies to tackle three areas immediately. Gangs and drugs, truancy and the enforcement of laws dealing with what I like to call larger crimes in the making," Walker said.
Holden said he's always backed the badge and plans to make police academies a priority.
While both candidates focused on the issues, neither took jabs at each other, and the gloves remain on, at least for now.
"I'm not going to get in a back and forth with Mike [Walker] over what he deems as happening and what I deem as happening. I think the people are educated enough to make a wise decision. Run on your record. Run on what you plan to do, and that's what you'll see us doing in our campaign," Holden said.
Small business owners Gordon Mese and Jim Mayer are also running for mayor. Greg Phares said he flattered so many people think he should run, and he's considering it.
The election is November 6th.