Application for the Baton Rouge Metro Council District 12 Interim Seat


On Thursday, January 16th, I submitted the following cover letter and resume as my application for the District 12 interim seat on the Baton Rouge Metro Council.


Barbara Freiberg vacated the seat after being elected to the state Legislature last fall. Under a new process, any registered voter who lives in the district may apply for the seat. The current councilpersons will vote Wednesday, January 22, 2020 to select her replacement.

To the Honorable Members of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council

222 Saint Louis Street, Room 364 Baton Rouge, LA 70802


January 16, 2020


Dear Esteemed Metro Council Members,


For the past eight years, I have been involved in community advocacy in East Baton Rouge parish, and I believe the knowledge I have gained from that work could be an asset to the people of District 12 and to the Metro Council. My advocacy work has been focused primarily on public education, but I also have worked with a variety of organizations that provided me with a greater understanding of issues that regularly come before the Metro Council.


While a board member of One Community One School District, I was immersed in issues affecting our public schools, including the reapportionment of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board in 2014, following Congress’ failure to renew the Voting Rights Act. No longer subject to Justice Department approval, the reapportionment plan pushed by business leaders enlarged and “cracked and packed” districts, ultimately weakening the voting strength of targeted populations.


As a Southside Civic Association board member, I was introduced to Planning and Zoning issues and their importance to establishing and maintaining the character of our neighborhoods. I have since come to appreciate how these ordinances affect patterns of development, the role they play in the structure of our local economy, and their pertinence to oversight of taxpayer dollars.


For a brief period of time in early 2014, I was a spokesperson for Residents Against the Breakaway/Better Together, a group which opposed the effort to create the City of St. George. In that role, I researched the history behind our consolidated government and the amendments to our Plan of Government in the 1980s and ‘90s, which allowed city revenue to be spent developing infrastructure in the unincorporated area. These changes to the Plan of Government allowed the disparity between investment in majority white and majority African American areas to persist and set the stage for the effort to create the City of St. George.


While serving on the Dialogue on Race Action Committee, I gained a deeper appreciation for the manner in which institutionalized racism can be maintained by seemingly race-neutral policies which stymie our elected government’s ability to address the root causes of persistent poverty and to foster an economy that works for the majority of its citizens.


As an experienced and dedicated community advocate with unique insights into the various issues affecting the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge parish, I believe I could be an asset to the people of District 12 and to the Metro Council, and I respectfully submit my application for your consideration. I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with each of you to discuss your concerns for our parish as well as my suitability for the District 12 interim seat. I will contact each of you to arrange a meeting at your convenience.


Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

Tania Nyman


Tania Nyman


Community Involvement


Candidate (defeated) for District 7 of EBR School Board, July 20-Nov. 6, 2018

The District 7 School Board seat is comprised of 22,526 registered voters and shares many of the same precincts with Metro Council District 12.


One Community One School District, Executive Board Member, 2012-March 2018

A non-profit organization comprised of parents and other concerned community members dedicated to maintaining a unified school district for the purpose of fulfilling a community’s responsibility to provide a free and appropriate education for all children regardless of race and socioeconomic background.


Dialogue on Race Action Committee, Member, 2015-2018

The Dialogue on Race Louisiana (DORLA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to dismantling institutional racism through education, transformation, and action. The action committee considers and promotes approved civic projects that reflect the mission of DORLA.


Beyond Bricks EBR, Founding Member, 2014-2016

A volunteer-driven effort to engage education stakeholders on questions of public school policies and initiatives. Beyond Bricks hosted 14 facilitated community conversations across East Baton Rouge parish to gather feedback from community members on their vision for public schools. Results were disseminated in its 2015 report.


Residents Against the Breakaway/Better Together, Spokesperson, Dec. 2013-April 2014

An organization comprised of concerned community members opposed to the effort to create a new city in the unincorporated area of East Baton Rouge parish.


Southside Civic Association, Board Member, 2012-2016

A civic association representing approximately 1800 households on the south side of Perkins Road and dedicated to protecting the character and quality of life of the Southside area.


Employment


Instructor of English, Department of English, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 1999–2010


Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Literature, American University, Washington, DC, 1998–1999


Creative Writing Instructor, Youth Slam League, Washington, DC, 1998–1999


Teaching Assistant, Department of English, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, 1997–1998


Creative Writing Instructor, DC WritersCorps, Washington, DC, 1995–1997


Education

· MFA Creative Writing, Fiction, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, May 1998

· BA in English, English Literature, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, Dec. 1992

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