Sharon Weston Broome
I am running for Mayor-President to continue on the progress we have made as a city and parish over the last 4 years. When I took office, we were still recovering from the historic floods of 2016, the unrest in the community over the shooting death of Alton Sterling and 6 of our police officers, and infrastructure needs that had long been ignored. I took office and hit the ground running, working with our congressional delegation and state leaders to secure funding for badly needed drainage projects, and fostering a new dialogue between the community and law enforcement. We’re now on track to make the largest investment in infrastructure in parish history, and we’ve implemented policing reforms that have outfitted all police officers with body camera, put 300 new police cars on the streets, and made investments in community programs to help lower crime. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly slowed down all the progress we have made, but we are not going to let it stop us. East Baton Rouge has become a national model for how to respond to this pandemic, and we’ll continue to set the highest standard for our city and parish as look to move past this pandemic in the safest way possible.
First, I want to make sure we can safely come out of this pandemic and have a strong economic recovery. Nothing is more important to the future of the city and parish than making sure people can safely get back to work and that our businesses can fully reopen to pre-pandemic operations, but we have to make sure it’s done in a safe manner to protect everyone. Beyond that, my priority is to continue to work on the many initiatives that we started in my first term because we have so many projects underway that truly impact the daily lives of everyone in the city and parish.
Second, we are in the early stages of the MOVEBR program – $1 billion investment in infrastructure, the largest in parish history, I want to ensure that this program has the intended impact on our community – addressing needs all across the city and parish. In addition to that, I want to make sure that it opens the door for opportunities that we wanted – helping not just the largest businesses in East Baton Rouge, but also small business, minority-owned businesses, and women-owned businesses. We’re allocating nearly 40 percent of all of the resources to that cause, and I am excited about what this work will mean for city and parish.
Our drainage infrastructure was not designed to handle the amount of water that our systems are currently mitigating. Since the Great Flood of 2016, drainage and water management have been a primary focus of my administration.The Stormwater Master Plan, which I implemented since taking office, is the first project of its kind in East Baton Rouge Parish, and will conclude with the preparation of the formal Stormwater Master Plan Report that will include technical and policy recommendations, a 20-year capital improvement program, as well as funding and implementation strategies. East Baton Rouge is on the cusp of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to address drainage needs, and my administration has submitted projects in every corner of the parish to benefit from these funds.
The MOVEBR program was an historic accomplishment for East Baton Rouge. We brought together business leaders, industry leaders, and community leaders to make the largest investment in infrastructure in parish history. We’ve got over $1 billion of projects in the pipeline to address traffic needs, including over 70 projects that will build new road capacity, increasing mobility throughout our parish, improving the appearance of EBR, bringing our traffic management software into the 21st Century, and creating nearly 3,000 jobs in our city and parish.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city and parish economy was growing, but has stalled as we continue to respond to the worst public health emergency in 100 years. In 2019, Baton Rouge was ranked in the top 15% of municipal economies nationwide, that’s 59th out of 381 metropolitan areas. Throughout this pandemic, I have continued to bring together business leaders from the region and engage with employers all across the country to spread the word that Baton Rouge is open for business. I’ve established a business council of local leaders to help guide that process, and as we move forward through this pandemic, I’ll continue to share the vision I have for East Baton Rouge with businesses looking to grow and expand.