Byron Sharper (D)

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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? 

Yes, we do have a race problem. And for me, my goal would be to put everyone in a room, close the door and have a conversation. Because I think until we’re honest with ourselves and bring everyone to the table, we have issues. We have an issue with police, economic development, and we have to have everyone at the table, including African Americans, young people ages 18-30 to find out why are feel so hopeless, the church community, everyone. We have to address the problems in north Baton Rouge, the lack of hospitals, high schools, grocery stores, and the opportunity for residents there to take care of their families.

There are a lot of trust issues. When folks talk about Baton Rouge, they don’t want to admit it, but we have two cities in one. I’ve been on a listening tour for the last year, and that’s what you hear.

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?

First, get the trash and debris from in front of homes and businesses and help folks with counseling. People weren’t prepared, and now there are lots of mental health issues. We also need to change the policy of how people are doing business in Louisiana, especially insurance companies.

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

The number one thing is dealing with our race relations, because until we fix our police department and our trust of each other, we’re not going anywhere. And we need to put some money into north Baton Rouge for infrastructure, economic development and to get rid of blight.

His background

Former Metro Councilman. Insurance agent and business consultant.

Frequent critic of current Mayor-President Kip Holden. Lost his council re-election bid to fellow mayoral candidate C. Denise Marcelle. Supported an unsuccessful effort to change the City Court’s districts to reflect the city’s majority black population. Part of successful effort urging the state to return Istrouma High to the EBRP school board. Has twice been accused of simple battery of a woman; one case was dismissed after he completed workplace sensitivity training, while in another the woman decided not to move forward with the case.

Direct more attention and resources to north Baton Rouge, particularly during the first two years. Prioritize infrastructure upgrades in that area, including improvements to Plank Road, Scenic Highway and other major arteries. Maintain open lines of communication with other officials and community leaders, including council members, nearby mayors and parish presidents, which he says Holden has not done.