BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The top-polling candidates for mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish squared off during a Monday night forum hosted by the Louisiana League of Women voters and the Louisiana Center for Health Equity.
The forum featured Sharon Weston Broome, John Delgado, Darryl Gissel, C. Denise Marcelle and Bodi White, all of whom qualified by polling at least five percent and raising at least $15,000.
Of the candidates, Broome and Marcelle supported raising the minimum wage in Baton Rouge, while Delgado, Gissel and White argued that would lead to businesses leaving the parish.
However, it was a series of questions about public safety and policing that drew the biggest distinction among the candidates, at time eliciting murmurs among the audience who was asked to hold any applause or comment at the beginning of the forum.
One question asked how each candidate would address excessive police force against African Americans.
Broome responded that it was vital to "dismantle the aggression that takes place, the lack of de-escalation that takes place, and the lack of understanding of the community you serve."
Delgado responded by saying "we should dismantle the myth that police are the bad guys." Delgado went on to say that Baton Rouge is a safe community "compared to the rest of the world" thanks to the efforts of police.
Gissel told the audience that change needed to start with police training and a close examination of the national standards of use of force.
Marcelle said she would work with the police chief she appointed to examine the police union contract which she believes makes it too difficult to fire officers who may have acted inappropriately.
White said the community needed more boots on the ground with better training and that police officers too often have to deal with issues beyond their duties.