District 7 Candidate: Councilman LaMont Cole

Metro Council Candidates

Biographical Information:

LaMont Cole is a resident of District 7 in Baton Rouge. He has lived in Fairfield, Eden Park, and Capital Heights. LaMont has either lived, attended school, or worked in District 7 for the past 40 years.

He has dedicated his life to improving the community and serving as a positive role model to inner-city youth. He has been in the field of education for 25 years. His commitment to education was fostered at a young age by his strong and nurturing mother. He credits his upbringing and his faith in God for placing him on the right path for success. He began working with young children in 1988, when he worked as a teacher’s aide at The Duffield’s Children’s Centre in Brooklyn, New York.

His passion for education led him to complete a Baccalaureate of Arts from Louisiana State University and later a Master of Education from Southern University in Administration and Supervision. He has served as the Assistant Principal at Westdale Middle and McKinley Middle Magnet, and principal at Park Forest Middle School and Capitol Middle school in East Baton Rouge Parish. His last assignment as principal was for The Community School for Apprenticeship Learning, known to most in the Baton Rouge areas as CSAL, which is a 6-8 grade charter middle school in Baton Rouge where he worked diligently to improve education for inner-city youth leading it to be one of the top performing charter schools in the state of Louisiana. He currently serves as the CAO of CSAL INC., which is a charter management group operating three charter schools in the state of Louisiana where he guides the instructional programming at each school.

Mr Cole’s masterful leadership is evidenced on a daily basis as he interacts with students, teachers and parents. He is often found in the classrooms supporting teachers, guiding instruction, and motivating students. In his 16-year career as a school leader, he and his teams have always been successful moving schools forward positively. He successfully guided the instructional practices which helped to earn Madison Preparatory the letter grade of ‘B’ and a National Blue-Ribbon award for Academic Excellence. CSAL Middle School also earned a letter grade of B under Mr. Cole’s instructional leadership. Both happened in the Fall of 2015.

His work as Chief Academic Officer of a network of public schools has afforded him the opportunity to increase educational outcomes through creating a space within the community that promotes and inspires academic rigor and participation. As the former president of Baton Rouge’s NAACP and former program director of the Young Leadership Academy, Cole increased organizational impact through innovative initiatives. During his leadership with NAACP, he fought to change the state’s accountability system which for years kept students from being promoted to the 4th and 8th grade and in some cases did not allow students to graduate from high school. As the program director of “Young Leader’s Academy, he directed and helped to mentor over 100 young men yearly to be better citizens in the Baton Rouge community.

Mr Cole’s community leadership extends to service on the board of HOPE Community Redevelopment, a board member of The Tyrus Thomas Foundation and The Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis Foundation. He has also served on other boards, including the ABC Board and the board for Jess’s Bra Closet.

In addition to these leadership obligations, Mr Cole served as the President of the Baton Rouge NAACP and was a co-host of a weekly radio show called NAACP speaks, for five years where he engaged the listening audience in discussions of challenging community issues.

In the fall of 2015 Mr. Cole was nominated to serve on the East Baton Rouge Parish Metropolitan Council to represent District seven in Baton Rouge. He was successfully appointed to serve in the seat of Metro – Councilman for District seven in Baton Rouge. In the fall of 2016 Mr. Cole was elected by the people of district seven to serve on the Metro – Council for four years. Mr. Cole has received numerous local and state-wide awards for his service to the Baton Rouge Community.

Councilman LaMont Cole has served as Councilman of council district seven since January of 2016. During his service, he gained national acclaim for his activism and advocacy for police brutality reform during the wake of the Alton Sterling murder. Months later after the “Great Flood of 2016”, he led the charge to raise thousands in philanthropic funding to support families in rebuilding and achieving normalcy.

In addition, to this work he has led the charge to execute a Disparity study which is required by law to provide a comprehensive analysis of just how fractured the economic distribution system is, and how minorities are being left out of the equation. He, along with other advocates and politicians, intend to use the findings from this study to further push the agenda for increasing resources, establishing a goal’s program for small and minority businesses and re-investing in North Baton Rouge. In addition, he was a member of the mayor’s use of force committee which established the city’s first De-escalation policy for the police department.

He has worked with the Capital Heights Community to establish a crime prevention district for the area. He also worked with the members of Capital Heights to build a pocket park over Wards Creek on Capital Heights. He has also worked with Hundred Oaks community to address infrastructure issues.

Under Cole’s service, the city’s first needle exchange program was enacted and policies to decriminalize marijuana were introduced. He worked with members of the business community to establish guidelines for the ITEP program which for over 80 years allowed for tax abatements for manufacturing companies with no local input.

Mr Cole is also the CEO of the ColeGroup, which is an education consulting firm specializing in leadership development, community organizing, school improvement and motivational speaking.

Mr. Cole devotes many weekends to spearheading anti-gun and anti-violence rallies in the community, as well as coordinating community volunteer efforts like voter registration and workforce training. Mr Cole’s life is a striking example of service through action, as each day he shapes and inspires the youth of our community and works to improve the quality of life for all citizens.

His commitment to the community is demonstrated in both his annual bike ride against violence and his implementation of a free bike registration program to decrease police confiscation of bikes. His annual job fairs increase access to job training skills and employers. On any given weekday evening, you can find him at a local football game or community event, being in his element–with the people.

Cole’s mantra is “there are only two times in life when one must commit him/herself to any level of significant success when working to serve people,–when you feel like it and when you don’t.” A man truly for and with the people, Cole’s every step is calculated with those he serves in mind. Cole is committed to bringing about the type of change to disrupt the status quo and to replace the fractured, city with systems and policies that support equitable access and opportunities for all people.

He is the husband of Cassie Cole and the proud father of daughter Parker Cole and son Carter Cole.

Education Background:

Master of Education in Administration and Supervision, 2004

Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Bachelors of Arts, Minor- English, 1997

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louisiana Certifications:

  • Louisiana Teaching Certificate Level 3: 434602
  • Educational Leader – Level 2 – 854
  • School Superintendent – 541
  • Principal – 540
  • Secondary School Principal -518
  • Secondary English -374

Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:

What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?

The Black Lives Matter movement has shed a new light on the disproportionate way people of color are still being treated. Since enduring slavery people of color have had to also endure, Jim Crow, Vagrancy Laws, Voter Suppression, Reconstruction, the New Deal, Red-Lining, The Civil Rights Movement, The Crack Epidemic, The War on Drugs, Mass Incarceration, Poor public schooling and now what seems to be organized police abuse by some in law enforcement around the country. The movement seeks to say to all people it is not time for all US citizens to have the promise of the constitution. All people deserve to have access to quality health care, great schools, proper law enforcement services and safe neighborhoods to live and play. The movement is necessary if we are ever going to be a country that does great things for all people by ensuring we can wake up and turn the American dream into the American vision. Every family can know their children will have the same opportunities because they are American citizens. The movement while painful at times is necessary.

What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?

The individuals we have chosen to lead this country must first be willing to admit the sins of the past still have an impact on the country today. Once we have all come to terms with the reality of systemic racism, we can then begin to have conversations about how to heal. Once we begin to have real dialogue, we then need to educate our communities so they will elect individuals who are serious about systemic change and are willing to do this work in a way that suggest in the most meaningful way all lives matter. Until then we will have challenges in our communities.

Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?

I am I favor of police reform. It looks like an evolving set of ideas that would take a great deal of pressure off members of law enforcement and empower communities to address certain issues of crime themselves. Our local law enforcement agencies are overworked and underpaid. We should not depend on our officers to enhance the health, safety, efficacy, sense of belonging and citizenship within communities. In my humble opinion that is where we need to begin. We need to redefine what we want and then expect law enforcement to do in our communities. And that means starting with a list of things that police officers do that they should not be doing — and in many ways they never should have been doing.

This includes dealing with people having a mental health crisis. There is no one else in our public health sector that is available for such calls. Wellness checks that police officers have been doing can lead to terrible outcomes. If police officers have been trained to minimize the risk to their own lives by using force as their first, and in many cases only tool, then people end up dead.

Again the process is empowering local communities to come to the table with city council members to create a process for redefining what the police do, which leads to an outcome, which is they do less of what they’ve been doing.

In many cities police have worked with people who are called ‘violence interrupter’. The work happens at the community level where nonprofits are trained to do violence interruption. It has had incredible results when done properly, but we would need people who live, eat, sleep and breathe the essence of the community being paid to do this work day and night.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. has responded to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you want to be done differently?

The country did not do the best job of responding. We have been warned for years about a respiratory pandemic coming to our shores. We should have never disbanded the National Security Council pandemic unit. For many years, the national intelligence director’s worldwide threat assessment has warned that a flu pandemic or other large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease could lead to massive rates of death and disability that would severely affect the world economy. Public health experts have been blowing whistles too.

Back in mid-2018, Fauci told Congress: “When you have a respiratory virus that can be spread by droplets and aerosol and … there’s a degree of morbidity associated with that, you can have a catastrophe. … The one that we always talk about is the 1918 pandemic, which killed between 50 and 100 million people… Influenza first, or something like influenza, is the one that keeps me up at night.”

We should have been prepared to do more testing and creating a country wide bubble. We should have and could have saved lives. If there were health care specialist monitoring the disease back in December, we could have worked with other countries to test people at entry points coming into the country. We could have done better, but we did not and now people are dying daily as a result.

Do you support more stimulus money? If so, how should Congress pay for the stimulus?

That’s a tricky question. In theory the stimulus money is supposed to do two things: 1. Help families. 2. Help the economy. By virtue of those two things I support the stimulus money. However; I think we should have done a better job of preparing for the pandemic. I think we should raise the national minimum wage and create jobs for the working class. We need to put people to work and those who have lost their jobs we need to put them back to work. We have to do a better job of listening to the professionals who have studied areas of grave concern, and are suggesting comprehensive plans to address those areas. In our current state of affairs, families are in need of stimulus money so I support it.

Congress will do what it has always done in times of emergency and the US was in debt, but needed money. The treasury will simply borrow money from investors by selling U.S. government bonds. The money that investors use to buy the bonds will likely come from their cash accounts, but more likely it will come from selling other investments, like corporate bonds. The national debt will increase but if we do not help the American people during this tumultuous time the US could have prevented, but did not, shame on our America.

What do you believe is the biggest issue constituents in the district you are running for are facing?

Well I wish the constituents I serve only had one issue. There are several issues of equal importance. My constituents still need access to healthcare, access to a quality education, a way to address crime in our district, continued economic development, and a comprehensive plan for drainage which includes consistently cleaning all drainage water flows.

Our communities need to be informed on process and procedures relative to how to engage city government to ensure services are distributed in an equitable way.

What are the principles of your campaign and why?

Our principles of the campaign are hard work, fairness, consistency, commitment and a resilient pursuit to seek perfection. We are giving a perfect effort, knowing we are not perfect but perhaps we can run a great campaign. Hopefully if we are elected we can continue to do the work for the community. We have accomplished a lot in four years but the work is not done. Without commitment we can never start. Without consistency, we can never finish. It will not be easy and it will require a great deal of hard work, but the only way we learn to do the work, is by actually doing the work. I hope to see all of you at work.

Why do you feel that you are the perfect candidate for metro council?

When we were elected in 2016, I promised the constituents a few things:

1. Healthy Food Options: We worked with the city parish to create more healthy options in the area including but not limited to fresh fruit and vegetables now being offered in some of the dollar stores north of Florida Blvd. We also worked to approve the Fresh Food Initiative and are now working to open a grocery store.

2. High Quality Public Schools: We worked with the schools system and built a brand new state of the arts elementary school in the district. We are continuing our efforts by working with educators to bring education options to the area. New schools have opened and kid are benefitting as a result.

3. A Modern Health Care Facility: We worked with health care professionals and opened a stand-alone emergency room, along with other health care facilities. We were able to work with our state delegation and city parish to re-open the emergency room at Baton Rouge General. We approved the Bridge Center as an additional resource for law enforcement to serve those in our community who may suffer from mental health challenges.

4. A Diverse Economic Development Program: We have seen 417 new businesses open in four years. We have seen small businesses take part in a grass roots buy back the block campaign to rehab and develop housing. We are working with Build Baton Rouge to implement the Plank Road Corridor Master Plan which will include new business developments as well as a transportation initiative and housing.

5. A 24/7 Crime Prevention District: We still have a long way to go to improve in this area, but we did have 3 consistent years of crime reduction in the areas of violent crimes, homicides, and domestic violence. We hired a progressive police chief who is enacting police reforms that are going to help the community.

6. Equity Infrastructure: The Government Street Road Diet has begun. We are seeing the re-pavement of streets like Government, Acadian, Choctaw and soon Foster Drive. Potholes are being filled in the district. Blight properties are being torn down and trash is being picked up like never before.

7. A More Connected District: Because of aforementioned our district is more connected. We will soon have a bus tour for members of the district and the chamber of commerce to discuss further ways to improve.

In addition below are some of the legislation I have sponsored and supported along with some of the services we currently provide.

LEGISLATION/POLICY

  • Sponsored the deployment of Small Cells for 5g accessibility
  • Sponsored Legislation for the de-criminalization of marijuana in the city of Baton Rouge
  • Sponsored Legislation for the first Legal Needle Exchange Program for Intravenous Drug Users to seek treatment
  • Sponsored Legislation for Smoke Free Baton Rouge
  • Sponsored Legislation for Free Bicycle Registration in the City of Baton Rouge
  • Sponsored Legislation to create local guidelines for the Industrial Tax Exemption Program
  • Sponsored Legislation for Blight Elimination
  • Sponsored Istrouma High School Beautification Resolution
  • Supported Council on Aging Mileage Tax
  • Supported Bridge Center Mental Health Tax
  • Supported MOVEBR Road Tax
  • Supported Fresh Food Initiative
  • Supported Build Baton Rouge Plank Road Land Bank
  • Supported the Increase for funds for the Youth Summer Employment Program

COMMUNITY INITIATIVES/PROGRAMS

  • Annual Pedaling for Peace Bike Ride
  • Annual Active Shooter Training for Educators in North Baton Rouge
  • Annual Voter Registration Drive
  • Annual ‘Pack The Sack” Back to School Give-away
  • Annual Thanksgiving Turkey give-away (Each year we feed 300 families)
  • Annual Breakfast with Santa and Toy give-away (Each year we serve breakfast to 500 families and give each child two toys.
  • Census Outreach
  • Annual End of the year celebration for educators
  • Community Conversations throughout District 7

PARTERSHIP AND DEVELOPMENT

  • Partnered with BREC to upgrade and renovate Howell Park and Gus Young Park
  • Collaborated with CSAL INC to build two new schools in the Northdale Subdivision
  • Worked with community and East Baton Rouge Parish School System to build brand new state of the arts Park Elementary School
  • Partnered with Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to provide food to District 7 residents multiple times each year.

COUNCIL OFFICE

  • Worked with business owners to open 417 new businesses in District 7
  • Worked with business owners to create 1100 new jobs in District 7
  • Partnered with Mayor’s office to open multiple health care facilities in North Baton Rouge
  • United with the Mayor’s office and state legislators to reopen Baton Rouge mid-city emergency room
  • Partnered with Build Baton Rouge to connect residents to grant opportunities for roof repair
  • Collaborated with Public Defenders Office to provide ‘Know Your Rights” professional development for members of the community each year
  • Partnered with public educators to ensure thousands of children graduated from high school
  • Collaborated with CSAL Middle Administration and Council on Aging to host Annual Black History Program for Senior Citizens
  • Worked with public educators and coaches to send hundreds of children to college with full scholarships
  • Worked with the community and state legislator to create Capital Heights Crime Prevention District
  • Worked with the community to create ‘Pocket Park’ in Capital Heights Community

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. COMMUNITY CENTER

  • The Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. (Eden Park) Community Center is a multi-purpose social service agency that first opened in 1978. Its mission is to empower and strengthen the community by providing comprehensive development through education, employment training, advocacy and other support services.
  • The Pearl George Senior Center is a multi-service senior center that offers a wide selection of daily events and activities, classes, fitness class, health programs, health screening, education, informational programs entertainment and more.….
  • PG Center Cafe’ – lunches for seniors who are 60+ are served at noon Monday thru Friday. $1.50 donations is requested, but not required.
  • The Daily Grind – Start the morning right with a cup of coffee, while you read the newspaper, watch TV, play cards or just relax and chat….
  • Sewing Sisters – Enjoy sewing, needlepoint, crocheting, quilting and other activities
  • Senior Fitness – SILVER & FIT – providing recreational and aerobic services to the seniors, which promote a healthy and vibrant lifestyle.
  • Golden Gardeners – enjoy gardening with proper plant maintenance, potting indoor plants, maintaining the PG Center flower beds, and creating a Community Garden
  • Arts From the Heart –Enjoy ceramics, creative crafts, painting, clay molding, and pottery classes
  • Office of Social Services (225) 389-7625 or (225) 389-7679 The mission of the Office of Social Services is to work in partnership and cooperation with governmental and community agencies to provide comprehensive human and economic development services to low-income individuals and families. Services offered:
  • Fema Emergency Rent/Mortgage Assistance Program
  • Home Energy Assistance
  • CSBG Emergency Assistance
  • Income Tax Service
  • Quarterly Commodities

Care South WIC (225) 388-5861 Care South has a WIC office located inside of the Martin Luther King Center. Hours of operation are: Monday-Thursday from 8:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). WIC provides healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education and referrals to other social services to women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum. Infants and children up to their fifth birthday may also receive benefits. Call us at 225-388-5861 to set up an appointment.

Metro Health (225) 338-9333 The Mission of BRBAC Metro Health is to develop and implement strategies that will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) Services provided by Metro Health include:

  • Risk Reduction Counseling
  • HIV/Hepatitis C/STI Counseling and testing
  • Connection to Care and /or Treatment
  • Case Meeting/supportive Services for persons who are HIV Positive
  • Street Outreach and Education
  • Substance Abuse counseling, Referral and Placement
  • Youth Development Sessions

CEO MIND (225) 372-1416 THE CEO MIND Foundation, a community organization whose focus is to help strengthen the underserved, under privileged urban community, focusing on leadership development, entrepreneurship skills, and technology by offering empowerment, engagement and the building of tangible pathways. One of our initiatives is The Youth Empowerment Zone (located inside the MLK Community Center) is a safe space designed to provide our kids with an enriching environment to engage, learn and be positively motivated to take control of their lives and future. Some of the things available at the Youth Empowerment Zone include:

  • After school tutoring
  • Science Lab
  • Technology Lab
  • Media Lab
  • Computer Lab
  • A One of Kind Literacy Library

In closing, I accomplished everything I said I would in 2016. I am not sure what other will tell you they are going to do, but as you can see we have done some work. I am not only the best but perfect candidate to continue serving as meteor – councilman because my commitment to this community as a school leader for 18 years education thousands of students, helped me as a councilman to create and enact progressive legislation. It is evidence of my ability to get the job done. Now more than ever, in these uncertain times, we need experienced leadership. My record of service to this community speaks for itself. I am not perfect person, but together we can give a perfect effort to make things better. Without commitment we will never start. Without consistency we will never finish. We still have so much work to do, but the only way we learn to do the work, is by actually doing the work. I hope the registered voters of District 7 will vote #117 on their ballot so we can continue to do this work. See you at work.

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