BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Times are good and they're getting even better, that's according to Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.
"The state of our city-parish is strong. 2015, my friends, promises to be another great year," said Mayor Holden.
Speaking to a couple hundred Rotary club members at the Renaissance Hotel of Baton Rouge, the mayor read new crime statistics, saying crime-related calls for service dropped 22 percent last year.
"With help from our BRAVE program, homicide rates in Baton Rouge have been trending downward," said Mayor Holden.
The mayor also touched on opening a 24-hour police precinct downtown this year.
"It's no secret. Our downtown is booming," said Mayor Holden.
More examples downtown include the new Mathernes grocery store, IBM and a Holiday Inn Express opening this spring on North Boulevard.
Following his speech, 9News asked Rotary members what challenges they'd like to see the mayor address this year.
"As the state undergoes reductions in its budgets, that's obviously going to have an impact on us," said George Bell, administrator at Baton Rouge General Medical Center.
"I think the economy everywhere, just not in Baton Rouge is always in question, particularly with oil prices," said Paul Arrigo, president of Visit Baton Rouge.
"Always education and traffic I think are big ones for us. And we've got healthcare challenges as well," said Beth Veazey of the Baton Rouge General Foundation.
The mayor closed his speech thrusting himself into the campaign spotlight.
"My friends, today's speech is not a political one, but you know I have announced that I will run for Lieutenant Governor," said Mayor Holden.
In doing so, the Democrat says he will not lose focus as mayor.
"I would never let my duties in this job supercede my expectations. You have to stay focused here because just watch the first six months of this year. You're going to see so many things happening in Baton Rouge," said Mayor Holden.
"It's a wonderful story to tell. And I think he laid the groundwork for what his future would look like as Lieutenant Governor," said Bell said.
Another good note for local businesses, Mayor Holden says New Year's Eve celebrations for Red Stick Revelry brought record-breaking sales to downtown restaurants and clubs.