BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The two candidates for East Baton Rouge mayor-president shared differing visions for the parish's future during a debate Thursday night, butting heads on issues from police practices to St. George.
Reflecting on the Alton Sterlign shooting, Democrat Sharon Weston Broome and Republican Bodi White presented different opinions on how to prevent a similar incident going forward.
"We don't have enough city police," White said. "We don't have enough police to work the streets. We're short. We've been short for years. Those guys go from call to call to call and they have very little time to stop and get to know everyone in their community."
"Unfortunately, there was a lack of training and understanding in how to handle a situation, how to de-escalate a situation," Broome said. "That's why it's so vitally important that we have effective police reform."
Broome called for a change of leadership at BRPD, including removing Chief Carl Dabadie. White said he would search for the right person, but was not immediately committed to getting rid of the chief.
"I'm not going to come in and fire anybody the first day," White said.
White repeatedly accused Broome of not being tough on crime, pointing to a measure she supported while serving in the state legislature that reduced the amount of time some criminals have to serve before being eligible for parole.
"How can we trust you to unify our city when you are coddling violent criminals that are tearing our community apart?" White asked.
"Not only do we have to be tough when it comes to crime, but we have to be smart when it comes to crime, too," Broome said.
On education, White expressed support for building more charter schools as a way of improving opportunities for students, while Broome said she opposed vouchers.
"Public schools have been at the core of great education," Broome said.
White avoided answering when asked directly if he would support another St. George breakaway initiative.
"I'm not for making any more cities in this parish right now," White said.
The two also plotted divergent paths on the subject of how to revitalize north Baton Rouge.
"We have to get the crime controlled, crime under control in north Baton Rouge. For new businesses to come, they have to be safe. They have to feel like their employees are safe in that area," White said.
"I am going to look for opportunities to have business incubation there. We have some strong anchors in north Baton Rouge, such as Southern University and so, I will certainly be uniting those anchor institutions and those ideas for innovations and creativity beyond a strip mall," Broome said.
Election day is Saturday.