With runoff election approaching, mayoral candidates pledge to move East Baton Rouge forward
BATON ROUGE- In the biting cold Monday, incumbent Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and former State Representative Steve Carter faced off in a debate before the Baton Rouge Press Club.
Both candidates are making a final push this week for votes, after Weston Broome entered a runoff with Carter earlier this month. The runoff election is Saturday, Dec. 5. Broome is a Democrat, and Carter is a Republican.
Among some of the biggest issues talked about Monday were crime, transportation, and race relations in the parish.
In terms of crime, Baton Rouge has seen homicides skyrocket this year. Numbers have entered the triple digits according to those tracking the numbers, and we are on a trajectory to break our parish's record.
"The biggest reason for the crime that we've seen is COVID-19," Broome said. "I'm not a sociologist. I'm not a psychologist, but if you read information from Brookings Institute and the federal government and stats throughout the country, there's an uptick in crime taking place."
Carter disagreed and believes more needs to be done to combat it.
"We do have a problem," Carter said. "In the last four years, we had an opportunity to reach 450 murders in a four-year period under the current administration. That's unacceptable to me. Part of the problem has to deal with the policing itself. We are understaffed, and we are now having to be reactive and not proactive."
Mayor Broome touted her road tax that had bipartisan support. Move EBR was a nearly billion-dollar tax plan that included light synchronization and the widening of roadways throughout the parish. Carter believes the pace is not fast enough.
"The largest infrastructure, roads and transportation project, by the end of this year, we're going to have 100 lights synchronized out of the 200-light synchronization program," Broome said.
"We've been talking about synchronization of lights since Pat Screen," Carter said. "I left church, and I stopped at three lights, almost stayed there 45 seconds each light."
As politics have also played a role in dividing the parish, both candidates pledged to continue trying to unite the parish between North and South Baton Rouge if elected.
"I love everyone, and I know most people in here do too," Carter said. "Certain people are born in zip codes, and they can't get out of the zip codes. We need to help these people and get to know who they are and whatever their problems are we can work together to solve their problems."
Broome said in her four years in office, she has helped unify the parish. She said the parish will hear feedback soon from an initiative that was started to help improve relations.
"One of the initiatives we've taken is the commission on racial equity and inclusion," Broome said. "I can't wait for people to see the members that are on this commission, who have come up with recommendations that will come forward. You won't hear from me, but you will hear from this diverse group of individuals who will talk about their experiences, Black, white, young, and old, and their view of the city and parish on how we can work together."
Polls open at 7 a.m. Saturday and close at 8 p.m..
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