Why I'm Running
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 would be an asset to the people of District 12 and East Baton Rouge Parish as a whole. 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 go 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. The Metro Council will be reapportioned following the 2020 Census. The proposed City of St. George will complicate this process. It is imperative reapportionment is not controlled by special interests seeking to create districts inhospitable to grass roots candidates who sincerely represent the best interests of average citizens and the community as a whole. I commit to advocating for a fair and just reapportionment that will ensure equal representation.
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. Many residents in District 12 and across the parish intuitively recognize that the pattern of disinvestment and gentrification affecting our parish does not benefit average citizens or genuinely small businesses. Planning and Zoning ordinances are key to controlling growth so it benefits the community as a whole. I commit to truly “smart growth” that benefits the people of District 12 and the entire parish.
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. St. George’s creation is not assured, but regardless of the outcome—whether or not it is approved by the courts—we are going to have to contend with the issues the proposed city exposed, and if created, the issues it will exacerbate. And we must do everything in our power to ensure that if the City of St. George is incorporated, then the negotiated settlement between it and the City-Parish is equitable and just. I commit to being a strong advocate on this issue.
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. Systemic racism hurts people of color to a greater degree, but it hurts working and middle class people of every race. I commit to addressing institutionalized racism. Routing out racism is not a zero sum game. I wholeheartedly believe a more equitable community will benefit all of us.
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 will be an asset to the people of District 12 and the entire parish. I recognize I cannot do this alone. I need your support and wisdom. Please contact me to discuss your concerns for our district and our City-Parish. And if you believe that we can work together to build a more just and more equitable community, then please vote for me on December 5th to be the District 12 Metro Council representative.