EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Dr. Beau Clark is seeking a third term as the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner, but his path to re-election is not uncontested.
Dr. Rani Whitfield, better known as the “Hip-Hop Doctor,” is running for the position as well. He’s currently a family physician at Our Lady of the Lake. Dr. Whitfield says he’s running with the goal of making the coroner’s office more engaged with the community.
“Most people don’t know who the coroner is and what the coroner’s office does,” Whitfield said. “Is that by design? I’m not sure, but I can tell you under my administration, you’re going to see me, not me, but you’re going to see coroner initiatives put out there on a lot of different things."
Dr. Clark, who practices part-time as an ER surgeon, is hanging his hat on his experience as coroner.
"I think the numbers speak for themselves,” Clark said. “The sheer amount of investigations that I've done in eight years has, makes me incredibly qualified to be the coroner of East Baton Rouge Parish."
On the issues, Clark says he wants to continue his work on Infant Safe Sleep, a program that works with new parents to make sure their child does not suffocate while sleeping.
“We teach the ABCs of safe sleeping. We go to the hospital systems, the birthing hospitals, have these conversations with families to say babies should sleep alone or on their back and in a crib.”
He says he also wants to continue working to reverse the trend of suicides among African American men.
"We are currently in the process right now of doing what is a forensic autopsy to determine if we can find the factorial or factors that are leading to this phenomenon,” he said.
Whitfield says he wants to tackle youth violence and use his position as coroner more as a chief medical officer for the parish.
“If there’s trends in infectious diseases, trends in substance abuse, sound the alarm on some item harming children in the home, some toy that’s dangerous,” Whitfield said. “So we should be able to sound the alarm whether it be through e-blast, social media outlets, but some way we can constantly alarm the community of things that are harmful to our community and prevent them from dying.”
The election is Oct. 18. Early voting begins Sept. 28 and goes through Oct. 5.