Primary elections wrap up tonight, but political campaigns are far from over, especially in East Baton Rouge Parish, where two tax proposals are on Dec. 8 ballot and campaigns for those efforts are just beginning to take shape.
Proponents of the MovEBR roads tax, as well as the Bridge Center mental health facility, are both planning ramp up their informational campaigns after today’s elections come to a close.
Business leaders supporting the roads tax, including Mike Wampold and Jim Bernhard, vowed in August to fund the campaign behind MovEBR, a 30-year, half-cent sales tax to fund major road and infrastructure improvements in the parish. The businessmen have since teamed up with political consultants on a fundraising campaign.
Now they’re ready to get the word out.
“It’s time to start informing the public on what the road improvements will be and what the tax is going to pay for,” says Wampold. “We will continue to have public forums and neighborhood meetings, as well as sending out information, mailers and commercials. There will be more efforts getting information out to the public.”
MovEBR, the brainchild of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, comes after years of failed roads tax plans, including Broome’s 2017 property tax proposal, which the Metro Council declined to put on the ballot. The mayor’s administration is hoping for better results this year with a sales tax, which the council overwhelming approved sending to the Dec. 8 ballot.
The Bridge Center has also previously faced defeat.
Two years ago, voters narrowly rejected a proposed 1.5-mill property tax to fund the crisis stabilization center, 51% to 49%—a loss Bridge Center board chair Kathy Kliebert partially attributes to a weak informational campaign.
This time, Kliebert says the campaign will focus on what the tax will fund—including a mobile assessment team, sobering beds and medical detoxification, among other services—which proponents believe will save lives, free up law enforcement officers and eventually save the city-parish some $55 million over a decade. Organizers have already launched a new website and Facebook page as a way to educate voters over the next month.
“There will be some TV ads, yard signs, posters and some radio spots coming out in the next few weeks,” says Kliebert, former Secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals. “You’ll start seeing more and more coverage, especially in the media.”