Sharon Weston Broome Wins Second Term As East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President
Sharon Weston Broome has won a second term as Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish, defeating Republican challenger Steve Carter.
The Democratic incumbent secured 57 percent of the vote, beating Carter, a Republican former state representative,
Trailing by 15,000 votes with nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting, Carter called Broome to concede at 9:45 p.m. Saturday. Broome delivered her victory speech to supporters 20 minutes later.
“Tonight we sent a message that Baton Rouge is not just moving forward, we are moving forward together,” Broome said. “These last four years have shown me the resilience of our community.”
Broome reflected on taking office in 2017. East Baton Rouge Parish was still reeling from the police killing of Alton Sterling, an ambush that left four law enforcement officers dead, and a devastating 1,000-year flood.
After taking office, Broome appointed a new police chief, and pushed for BRPD to revise its use of force policies and force officers to wear body cams. She worked with state and federal officials to secure $255 million to improve drainage and reduce flood risk in the parish. And she convinced voters to raise taxes to fund $1 billion of infrastructure projects.
Those accomplishments resonated with Baton Rouge voters.
Broome won 48 percent of the vote in the Nov. 3rd primary, falling just two points shy of earning a second term without this runoff.
Carter faced an uphill battle after securing only 20 percent of the vote in the primary, but he hoped to attract Republicans and Democrats alike who are frustrated by what he described as the slow pace of change during Broome’s four years in office.
East Baton Rouge Parish has had more than 100 homicides in 2020 and is on pace for a record-setting year.
The candidates for East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor President squared off Thursday in the final debate before Saturday’s decisive runoff election. The Democratic Broome and Republican Carter discussed a variety of topics during the one-hour event hosted by WAFB. But again and again they returned to the city’s struggles with violent crime.
Broome said before this year, the city had seen a steady reduction in violent crime.
“In 2018 and 2019 our numbers were going down consistently as it relates to violent crime,” Broome said. “What happened in 2020? A pandemic. And if you look at records, newspapers all over America, you will see that there’s an uptick in crime.”
“I’m not sure where the mayor is getting her numbers but I want to differ with her a little bit on COVID causing the problem,” Carter said. “Four of the worst years for murder have happened under her watch.”
He said low morale and low pay have kept BRPD from retaining qualified officers and reducing crime.
Carter said if elected he would convene a task force to study the problem and push for officer pay raises — steps Broome has already taken.
After a multi-year departmental streamlining effort, BRPD officers are on track to receive a 6 percent raise in Broome’s 2021 budget.
Broome said it takes time to bring about meaningful change. Carter argued that under her leadership, it has taken too long.
"The mayor has been in office four years, and now all of a sudden we're thinking about getting police officers raises," Carter said. "Why wasn't some of that activity done in her second or third year?”
Carter similarly criticized Broome’s slow progress on long-awaited infrastructure projects.
Just days before the runoff, Broome announced that the city-parish will break ground on 21 infrastructure projects in 2021, including seven projects aimed at reducing traffic congestion. The projects are part of the $1 billion MovEBR program approved by voters in 2018.
Broome’s message seems to have drawn many Republican voters to her side.
There was a sharp decrease in turnout from the Nov. 3 primary when voters flocked to the polls to cast their ballots in the presidential election. But participation in this runoff was on par with runoff in the 2016 mayor-president’s race. Tellingly, Broome won 6,000 more votes on Saturday than she did four years ago.
“Every resident of Baton Rouge will continue to be represented. No one will be forgotten,” Broome said. “I am excited and I am humbled to roll up my sleeves, put the politics behind us and get back to work.”