BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The candidate who takes the East Baton Rouge District 9 Metro Council seat faces some big challenges.
It's an area hit hard by recent flooding and plagued with traffic concerns in southeastern Baton Rouge. District 9 will need someone to step up and represent families as metro councilman Joel Boe steps down. Five men are up for the challenge.
"People are tired of saying, 'Well we're studying this and we're studying this.' They want to see some action and I think we can do that by doing some of the small projects first and then working up our way to bigger projects," said Kenneth Perrett, republican candidate for metro council. Perret spent most of his career with the Federal Highway Administration. He also worked for DOTD for five years.
Republican Dwight Hudson is a life-long resident of Baton Rouge and knows all too well about the traffic problems in his district, for example, on Jones Creek Rd. and O'Neal Ln. The new father and chairperson of the group Tax Busters says in addition to reducing traffic, he wants to think of ways to keep families in Baton Rouge schools.
"It's always been frustrating to me to have young families with school-aged children that come to you and say, 'Look, we want to plant roots somewhere. Let's go look at houses in Ascension or Livingston.' I want them to come look in District 9," said Hudson.
Democrat Jim Mora's campaign is also focused on education and housing. And no, he isn't the former Saints head coach. "It's hilarious when I first got here. Everybody kept saying, 'Are you Jim Mora?' And then they'd say, 'Say playoffs!' and I'm like, 'What are they talking about?'" He says his experience in California, Las Vegas, and Baton Rouge as a mortgage banking professional will help flood-impacted families in District 9.
"First hundred days in office I'm going to identify all these houses that aren't being touched, identify the owners, and let them know there's solutions for them rather than just walking away," said Eugene Collins, democratic candidate. One of the candidates is facing this dilemma himself. Collins and his family flooded in August. He's worked in public health for years with the state and in non-profit organizations and wants to bring people of different backgrounds together for change in his home town.
"For far too long, we have talked about this divide and during this flood, I had people stop and help and neighbors loan me things and there was a guy riding around the neighborhood passing out cash to people trying to help doing what he could. I saw the goodness in people's hearts and I think we can build on that and I think I'm the man to make that happen," said Collins.
Part of making that happen is improving community police relations in the district, something democratic candidate and small business owner, Kennedy Ugbo, is pushing for in his campaign. "We need police officers that will be around the neighborhood, be part of the neighborhood, know them, know families," said Ugbo.
With this many candidates in the race, political analysts say there will likely be a runoff come December in District 9.