Rufus Craig (L)

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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, it absolutely does. I would advocate ending the war on people that use drugs. It’s not a war on drugs, it’s a war on people who use drugs and it’s used disproportionately against poor people and people of color. After two generations of this policy, it’s left behind the people of north Baton Rouge and created bad relationships between police and neighborhoods. As a community and a nation, we really need to stop the war on drugs. We need to look at the Portuguese model of decriminalizing drugs. If you use drugs north of Florida Boulevard you come in contact with Department of Corrections. South of Florida Boulevard, you get rehabilitation for a couple of months.

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?

We need to get as much help from outside sources as we can, state and federal. Looking at it from the perspective of a libertarian, we also need to accept as much personal responsibility as possible. We need to reassess how we construct and where we construct. For example, if you build in a flood zone, you should assume that responsibility including how you build a house. We need to look at how and where we develop and what rules we put in place on construction. A lot of people are talking about the Comite River Diversion Canal, which is a boondoggle. It might have made a difference of just about 8 inches less of flooding.

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

Establish some sort of rapport between north and south Baton Rouge. Establish economic development in war zones, meaning the zones where the war on drugs is going on. Establish something else in those communities besides predatory loan businesses and pawn shops. It appears that the vast majority of development goes to central and south Baton Rouge, and in my mind, we have a responsibility to change this.

His background:

Attorney. Chairman of state Libertarian Party. Ran for Congress three times.

Chairman of the state Libertarian Party. Has run for Congress three times. Frequently defends people accused of drug crimes, which has helped shape his belief that the drug war is futile.

Running to call attention to two issues. The first is ending the drug war, which he says is institutionally biased against minorities and the poor, creating negative relationships between communities and law enforcement. The second is insufficient funding for mental health services, which leaves first responders such as law enforcement officers dealing with people who have mental health issues.