The Mayoral Race
We had some “big” news in the upcoming mayoral race. “Big” is in quotation marks because the news wasn't unfortunately so much “big” as “expected.” The announced field has been winnowed down from 5 to 3, with both John Conroy and James Mayer withdrawing from the race within the last two weeks. Those left standing on the field are current Mayor-President Kip Holden, current Mayor Pro-Tempore Mike Walker, and local businessman Gordon Mese.
It's entirely possible that you've never heard of either Conroy or Mayer, as they've received the least media attention of the announced candidates, which is unfortunate.
Mr. Conroy entered the race around March of this year. He made appearances at local GOP events and spoke before the Metro Council during the public comment period concerning the recent Budget Supplement discussion. Unfortunately, while Mr. Conroy seemed to enjoy some support from the fiscal conservative/tea party side of the political spectrum, that support apparently resulted in little in the way of campaign contributions, reportedly necessitating his withdrawal from the race.
Mr. Mayer announced his candidacy around February of this year. Following the announcement, however, there was little to no additional activity one would normally expect from a political campaign (website, signs, appearances, etc) and many suspected that the campaign would eventually cease. Mr. Mayer announced his decision not to run for Mayor earlier this week, citing the need to focus his efforts on assisting the LSU System with their financial situation resulting from education and health cuts at the State level.
In the long run, I think the loss of these two candidates is disappointing. While I'm an acknowledged supporter of Mayor Holden, I think political races are better when more candidates are involved. While I don't think either of the departed candidates had much of a shot at winning the election, their participation helps to keep the stronger candidates honest. If Mayor Holden and Mayor Pro-Tem Walker (the two presumptive leading candidates for the race) only have each other to trade blows with during the cycle, it tends to create an “issue détente” where the same issue is brought up over and over again to the detriment of other issues. Currently, that issue is crime, which is definitely important, but certainly not the only issue with which Baton Rouge has to deal.
Mr. Mese is a great example of how a less well-known candidate can help to keep the issues of a race broad. His focus on reforming the Unified Development Code should help to keep that particular issue in the mayoral discussion, assuming Mese stays in the race for the long run. Considering he's largely campaigning without any expectation of financial support and primarily campaigns through social media and personal appearances holding a sign at your local neighborhood intersection, he seems well positioned to stay in and make a difference.
On Tonight's Episode of 3rd Floor Theatre!
Looking through the agenda, there's nothing terribly exciting tonight at the Metro Council. Most of the items forwarded from the Capital Improvements and Finance and Executive Committee were sent with recommended approvals. There are a few discussions, however, that may be noteworthy in the public hearing section.
Public Hearings (A): A proposal allowing the city to seek low-interest financing through the State Department of Environmental Quality to deal with the rehab of the sewer system required through a consent decree with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. For some reason, the sewer system rehab hasn't really gained all that much traction, but it's a major, long-lasting issue for Baton Rouge. The long-term loans are a good thing since we've already started rehabilitating the sewer, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone didn't use the opportunity to question Mayor Holden's decision to pursue this particular plan (even though the Metro Council had a hand in approving the new direction).
Public Hearings (B): A proposal by Mayor Pro-Tempore Mike Walker to consider privatizing the two large River Center parking garages downtown. As someone who parks there somewhat frequently, I find them poorly maintained and dirty. I will give them fiscal credit for still using tickets with CENTROPLEX imprinted on them. I'm not sure if privatizing the garages would really help, the private company will almost certainly increase the fee to park. One would hope that some of that increased cost would go to maintenance. Hopefully, if privatizing the service is adopted, the request for proposals/bids will be carefully written to insure proper care, upkeep, and maintenance of the facilities.
Appointments: Entertaining, I guess. It looks like Fire Protection District No. 1 has the same two candidates running for a total of five positions. Not sure if this is a typo or if the Board is just going to be short.
Items (E): This may be interesting. The item is a proposal to fund a position with the Downtown Development District (DDD) from September to December. In what appeared to be an anti-Downtown vote, the Council previously shot down a request by the DDD to simply rehire for an authorized, vacated position a few months ago. We'll see if the Council is more willing to consider allowing the DDD to do their job tonight.
Join me for the Council meeting tonight. Live streaming is available here starting at 4PM or you can catch it on Cox 21 (if you have Cox, that is). Some of the introductions are interesting, but I'll cover those next week. See you then!
Most recent The Spoils of Progress blog posts
Bad Guys, Good Eats! Pop-Up Dinner at Restaurant IPO
Chef and 225 contributor Jay D. Ducote and Chef Chris Wadsworth hosted the Bad Guys, Good Eats! dinner at Restaurant IPO Wednesday night. The dinner was themed around famous movie villains, pairing cocktails and ales with plates of food resembling famous baddies like The Joker, Lord Voldemort, Hannibal Lector, and many others. The highlights of the night were the three middle courses—a black bean soup laced with blood sausage to signify Lord Voldemort, a brace of coneys on black eyed peas resembling Sauron, and lamb medallions atop a fava bean puree to pay homage to the famous favorite of Hannibal Lector.
Elizabeth Arkley Hammett, a local nursing student and Fur Ball co-coordinator, and her husband Grey Hammett III, who works in commercial real estate, will take you through our summer guide. And they'll look good while doing it, too. Where noted, their clothes and accessories are available from local retailers.
These swimsuits will keep you stylish all summer long
Better Block BR
On Saturday the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives on April 13, 2013, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more "complete street" model.