Bodi White (R)

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Do you believe Baton Rouge has a race problem, and if so what 2 steps would you take as mayor in your first year to address it? 

I think we have tensions from time to time, and they flare up more at certain times than others. It seems like the last couple of years, racial tensions have been higher in East Baton Rouge and nationally. When that happens, we have to work through them. We have the advantage that our adult population is pretty educated. It’s going to help us be able to sit down and think through things and not take sides. When we don’t have outside influence and incitement, we get through these things a lot quicker on our own. I’ve not ever seen a time in history that we can’t work through it. We need to sit down and look at each other face to face. It does not have to be big groups of 300-400 people. When you sit down with people, you find out that all over this parish, people have the same issues and concerns with family, kids and community.

East Baton Rouge Parish and its residents were severely impacted by the August floods. What specific ideas do you have to rebuild our community and strengthen its people?

For part of it, our people are going to help rebuild themselves. They’re not going to sit there and wait. Most of the people in my district have torn the sheetrock and floors out, and they’re waiting on word from FEMA on elevation. I’m going to be with a group who is going to start the rebuild on the first house. A lot are waiting on insurance. I’m hoping that we can find a way to allow people to rebuild while keeping their same mortgage. It’s going to take time to get over the shock. After Katrina, I went to New Orleans and Plaquemines Parish every week. It was so slow coming back. We need a greater federal package. The fact that this was not a named storm probably hurt us. I’ve also been exploring bond issues with housing authorities and private groups. If we can get the interest at a lower rate where the monthly rate is similar, that takes a lot pressure off of people.

In order for you to consider your first term as mayor a success, what is the No. 1 thing you hope to have accomplished?

It’s evolved. Before the last 30 days, the thing I wanted to do was to work with the school system to improve our local dropout rate.

Now, it’s evolved to helping people get back in their homes and resolving the housing problem and keeping people in the parish.

His background:

State senator. Private security company owner. Real estate agent. Served two terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Helped secure “hundreds of millions of dollars” for infrastructure. Supported the failed effort to create an independent school district in St. George but hopes to make incorporation supporters happy with parish government.

Enact tolls for new high-capacity roads and bridges. Create a dedicated traffic fund paid for with “extra revenue or savings captured through waste” for voter-approved infrastructure projects. Continue the Baton Rouge Violence Elimination Program (BRAVE). Raise salaries for police officers. Encourage better community interaction by police. Move away from the “unaffordable and unsustainable pension program” for city-parish employees. Get more children into Head Start programs.