Political professor: Baton Rouge mayoral candidates must address recent protests

Political professor: Baton Rouge mayoral candidates must address recent protests

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge mayor's race is not what it used to be at least in terms of topics. It went from economic development and traffic as major issues to a community at odds, and one political analyst said all bets are off now.

The recent unrest in Baton Rouge could play a huge role in whom voters choose to replace Mayor Kip Holden.

One political professor said more times than not, a big even or tragedy ends up eclipsing an entire political term. Twelve people have officially qualified for the race to be mayor-president, and Dr. Albert Samuels said most voters are looking for the candidate to address recent protests.

"Different segments of the community are calling on the next mayor-president to answer the question of how are you going to address concerns about the relationship between the police and the African-American community," Samuels said.

Some of the candidates running for mayor have been very vocal during the protests and all that followed, while others have been relatively quiet.

"There's not going to be anywhere to hide for these candidates. They are going to have to answer the question," Samuels said.

"People want their respective candidates to feel the way they do. So the way the candidates express themselves about the Alton Sterling case may very well determine the next mayor-president," said political analyst Jim Engster.

Both experts agree turnout will be key. The ballot is a crowded one as the presidential election will also be decided that day along with several Congressional and U.S. Senate races.

"All politics is local and there's nothing more local than a mayor's race and in this case mayor-president," Engster said. "And we've had an issue that not only has permeated the city but also has affected the rest of the country. So this is an issue that has relevance and it's one in which the candidates had better think long and hard about how they talk about it because it could determine who wins and loses."

The election will be held November 8 and will most likely head into a runoff.

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