Over the course of this campaign, Jordan Piazza plans to discuss the problems and issues that are prohibiting our community from achieving greatness.
A high-quality school system is a key component of a productive, successful, and attractive workforce and place to live. Unfortunately, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System ranks 38th out of 70 total school systems in Louisiana. City-parish leadership cannot sit on the sidelines: The Mayor-President must have a role in public education, as both an advocate and facilitator. Eliminating bureaucratic and political hurdles from our education system must be a top priority.
From improving Early Childhood Education programs - particularly those in at-risk areas, so students are better prepared with basic skills, knowledge, and behavior conducive to learning – through enhanced options for elementary and secondary students, whether it’s charter schools, STEM, gifted or magnet programs, we must set high standards and tangible goals for improving student performance.
• East Baton Rouge Parish School System has a graduation rate of 72% lagging behind other school districts in the Parish including Central (85.2%) and Zachary (93.1%)*
• EBR Parish Public and Private Schools have seen a 34% decline in K-12 Enrollment*
The Mayor-President is the city-parish’s chief economic advocate, especially for locally-owned small businesses in our city-parish: there are over 44,300 small businesses and they encompass almost 98.8% of all businesses in the parish. I come from this private-sector community of business owners, and my administration will welcome and fight for those who want to do business in our parish.
In the face of COVID-19, small businesses and working families are hurting. Many businesses are closing. Our city-parish government must be a catalyst for recovery, not the reason businesses don’t make it. The process of starting a business and obtain a proper business licenses in EBR should be as easy as it is to register to vote or renew a driver’s license. A more streamlined permitting process, with a greater emphasis on registration and renewal online, should be the cornerstone of our efforts to make sure EBR is “open for business.”
With more opportunity throughout our parish, we can retain our qualified workforce instead of losing them to other prospects in nearby states. It’s a complementary process: small businesses and startups are essential to stemming the tide of outmigration. Most small businesses stay local, helping to expand our tax base. These businesses cannot be successful without steady and reliable access to financing, a trained workforce, and proper financial education. It is crucial to our growth to encourage and nurture these opportunities.
• In EBR, total jobs have fallen in six of the past ten years, including three of the last four.**
• 45% of EBR Residents feel they are living comfortably while 38% feel they are just getting by**
• EBR Parish Poverty rate is 1.5X the national average**
For far too long, our Parish government has operated outside its means. Over the past four years, our annual budget has increased by $125 million to reach the $1 billion threshold, even while our population has decreased by more than 6,000 residents during this same period. Where is this money going? The annual budgeting process is lacking in transparency and oversight by both the Metro Council and the citizens. This cannot continue. East Baton Rouge Parish needs a streamlined approach that reduces wasteful spending, pet projects, and favoritism. Having a long-term financial plan for our Parish and reforming the budgeting process are two crucial and long overdue reforms I will implement.
• 69% of EBR Parish residents believe the pace of progress in the parish is “too slow”**
• 63% of EBR Parish residents believe they have no influence over elected officials.**
2018 and 2019 were record high years for homicides. In 2019, we had 131 overdose deaths, the highest in the state, and with more of our people in jail than Lafayette or New Orleans. We cannot arrest or prosecute our way out of this problem. We need to develop a more comprehensive approach to public safety that works to address addiction, mental health, and rates of recidivism while also keeping our communities safe from violent criminals.
93% of Louisiana’s cities have a lower crime rate than the City of Baton Rouge. Currently, we have nine different agencies, each with different expenses, training, jurisdictions, and commanders and yet our crime rate has remained high for years. Clearly, law enforcement agencies within our Parish must be aligned and working together for towards common goal. As Mayor-President, I will coordinate with the BRPD Chief, the Sheriff, and all law enforcement agencies towards total alignment and continuous cooperation.
• 40% of EBR Residents feel unsafe walking alone at night in their neighborhood**
• 24% of EBR residents were crime victims in the last year**
• As of 7/13/2020, there have been 65 homicides in EBR Parish putting the parish on track for another record year of homicides***
Since 2005, Baton Rouge residents have been paying for a mismanaged and ineffective beautification program. Political jockeying and tensions between the Mayor and Metro Council led to two separate and distinct anti-blight initiatives, an obvious sign of a lack of cohesion and cooperation. Worse, we still lack a successful, continual, and comprehensive beautification program throughout our parish. We need to greatly reallocate funds to increase the effectiveness of our parish beautification program…and eliminating the unnecessary duplication of funds is step one. Let’s show some pride in our community and respect to all who live here by keeping EBR beautiful!
• 54% of EBR residents see litter as a real problem, even though East Baton Rouge Parish spends almost $1.3M on the annual Parish Beautification Program.**
• Currently, there are two anti-blight initiatives due to political in-fighting: one by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome ($200,000) and another by the Metro Council ($2.4M)****
• *Louisiana Department of Education
• **Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s 2019 City Stats
• ***EBR Parish Coroner’s Office
• ****EBR Parish Annual Budget
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