Rodney “Smokie” Bourgeois (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 a contrived race problem, but in the classic sense, no, I don’t. There are a lot of things that need to be done in north Baton Rouge concerning blight and cleaning up and helping the people who live up there. There are so many boarded up buildings and that’s where the crime element congregates. First thing is to address that problem. North Baton Rouge has been completely overlooked for years. Overall the large majority of Baton Rouge, black and white, is a lot more tolerant than we give them credit for.

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?

It’s still in process, but I tell you one thing, we need to divert money from something like a downtown tram to what we really need, like drainage. That had a lot to do with the flooding. The Comite Diversion Canal, which we’ve been talking about for over 30 years, it’s not an end-all solution, but it can help.

After 30 years of a talking about it, all you have is the outfall built. I’m not interested in excuses. I’m sure that diversion canal can be built and we need somebody in the mayor’s office constantly doing something about it and keeping it in the forefront.

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

I’m only running for one term, I justify that by Harry Truman, who said that any political elected official who is not concerned about credit or reelection can accomplish a lot more. I believe I can get a lot done about traffic with a Rapid Response Unit. Traffic is horrible, You can talk about a loop until the cows come home. One should have been built in the 60’s, but it wasn’t. You just can’t build it now, the permits you have to get. Interstate 12 and 10 through here is a disaster. I’m going to create a Rapid Response team that consists of a motorcycle squad that can get in and out of traffic quickly especially in high traffic areas. We will dispatch this squad with six to eight officers to start. They get a call and immediately go out on their motorcycles and they get through the traffic on high traffic roads, and as soon as they get there, they make a quick assessment and the cars have to be moved. They’re moving traffic while doing this, while the units or ambulances are coming.

His background:

Former Metro Councilman. Founder of George’s restaurant.

Was known for being outspoken and colorful during his term on the Metro Council. Lost a runoff to fellow mayoral candidate John Delgado in 2012. Often disagreed with Mayor-President Kip Holden on issues like the failed bond proposals and the new downtown library.

Raise starting salaries for police officers. Give officers access to continuing education in areas such as criminal justice, behavioral psychology and management. Remove blight. Add about 150 right-turn lanes at heavily traveled intersections. Improve traffic-light synchronization. Create a dedicated motorcycle police traffic detail. Improve bridge maintenance. Fix poorly built streets. Add bicycle and pedestrian routes where appropriate. Tighten enforcement of traffic laws. Re-examine the value of traffic light cameras. Consider a local sales-tax holiday.