From the pandemic to drainage, Mayor-President candidates square off during forum

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – From the Coronavirus pandemic to traffic, and crime, the candidates for East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President came together to hit those topics and more during a forum.

The Advocate and LPB joined forces Tuesday morning to host a forum with the top six candidates.

The first question was what would they do to change policing?

“I would establish getting rid of the city police and the sherrifs and combining them into a new entity. We’re gonna call it the Guardian Rouge. So no more green. No more blue. It’s gonna be a new red or kind of a hip, cool maroon color,” said Attorney E. Eric Guirard.

Metro Councilman Matt Watson went after current Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome when asked if he would fire Police Chief Murphy Paul.

Watson replied, “I won’t make the same mistake the current Mayor when she was running for office saying she was gonna remove Carl Dabadie. Murphy Paul, for all of his failures, is a civil servant and he’s protected by civil service.”

Broome responded, “When I ran in 2016, you may recall there was a cry from the citizens of our community in terms of policing and wanting change and wanting reform and leadership was part of the reform.

Watson added, “I don’t think they wanted the murder rate to be as high as you could let it get.”

Watson also attacked Broome on the topic of the City of St. George and the current lawsuit.

“You’ll hear the Mayor say that she’s got the right to file the lawsuit. Well, just because you’ve got the right to do it doesn’t necessarily mean you should. We should work together with the folks who are in St. George,” Watson answered.

Broome replied, “And the truth be told, before we started down this path of even an election, I met with them to find out what were their concerns. Then, after the election, I asked them, come to my office. Let’s sit down. Tell me what you want us to do as City-Parish government and what you plan to do. They did not give me a firm plan.”

Broome was attacked again, this time by Businessman Jordan Piazza about the area’s drainage issues.

Piazza said, “We have no preventative maintenance program. DPW is understaffed. They only get called when there’s problems, not when there’s hey, great job. We know there’s a lot of issues in those departments, but you have to have resources and not just at time of elections. Conveniently. a lot of things seem to be getting done this year. It’s because there’s an election coming up.”

Candidates were also asked about boosting the economy and the response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“When the COVID testing started, I would have focused more on the communities, the inner city communities of getting those tests out. It was a lot of people, young people and I have a personal experience when my grandson went in, had the symptoms, tried to get tested. They wouldn’t test him because of the age,” said State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle.

Former State Rep. Steve Carter added, “We needed to protect the businesses a little more than what we did and in doing that, I think that you need to make sure you hit a happy medium with businesses that have really struggled and we’ve got to find someway to help them get back on their feet.”

The 90 minute forum also hit on the City of St. George, the Alton Sterling civil suit and traffic.

We reached out to the candidates to get their thoughts on the forum.

“Mayor Broome has been a steady leader for East Baton Rouge Parish and the city of Baton Rouge during some very trying times, and today, she proved why the voters should re-elect her to a second term. Prior to COVID-19, the city and parish were moving forward with investments in infrastructure, a growing economy, and public safety. Despite her opponents manipulating facts during the debate, Mayor Broome is laser focused on leading the city and parish through this pandemic and fostering an economic recovery that will move us four years forward.”

– Richard Carbo, spokesman for Mayor Broome’s campaign 

“We thought it was an overall a success. I stood out as a conservative Republican. I think it’s evident that our Mayor-President doesn’t have a solution and is not really knowledgeable on the issues. We spend so much money on studies, it’s just outdate. She says she’s a transformative leader and that hasn’t happened. We have to stop electing these career politicians. We elect these same folks and expect different results.”

– Jordan Piazza, Candidate for Mayor-President

“I thought there were some interesting questions. I think the Mayor came off as very defensive the entire time and not very truthful.”

– Rep. C. Denise Marcell, Candidate for Mayor-President

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