Less than a week after filling her late husband’s vacant Metro Council seat, Denise Amoroso on Tuesday explained in her first public address how she persevered through the uproar surrounding her special election to the council Thursday night, as well as how she plans to move forward.
“It’s been a rough couple days here,” she told a crowd gathered at Cafe Americain on Jefferson Highway. “I’ve had people come up to me since Thursday night and say, ‘How could you sit there for four hours and listen to such horrible things?’”
The Metro Council’s decision to appoint Denise Amoroso, whose husband—District 8 Councilman Buddy Amoroso—was killed in a bicycling accident last month, came after nearly two weeks of infighting on the council, triggered by a deeper internal debate on whether black people are fairly represented.
But Denise Amoroso, who was sworn into her new role Tuesday at a luncheon sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of East Baton Rouge, hopes to get past the political drama.
The former elementary school teacher recalled praying before walking into the Metro Council meeting, which helped her realize that she would be fine with either outcome—whether the council appointed her to the position or not.
“I felt pretty confident going in, but you never know what’s going to happen,” said Denise Amoroso, who was married to Buddy Amoroso for 36 years before his death.
While sitting through the fiery public comments and other councilmembers’ remarks was difficult, Denise Amoroso said she imagined placing a sign on Buddy Amoroso’s old desk saying, “What Would Buddy Do?”—a play on the popular “What Would Jesus Do?” mantra. She resolved that he would’ve “sat there and not said a word, shaking everybody’s hand afterward.” So that’s what she did.
Ready to move forward, Denise Amoroso told Daily Report how immediately after her appointment, she went to shake Democratic Metro Council member LaMont Cole’s hand, to which Cole said, “No, no, no,” and went in for a hug.
However, other than Cole and Tara Wicker, the latter of whom supported her appointment from the start, Denise Amoroso noted the other Democrats—including Erika Green, who was out of town during the meeting, and Donna Collins-Lewis and Chauna Banks—have not yet reached out to her.
As a show of support, Republican Metro Council member Dwight Hudson attended Thursday’s luncheon.
Denise Amoroso said she wants to uphold the will of District 8 by honoring the conservative legacy of her husband, who won his district with 66% of the vote. She said she knew why he voted the way he did on certain issues—the smoking ordinance, for example, which he voted down because he believed it infringed on the rights of private business owners.
Just as Buddy Amoroso passed out his telephone number to anybody who asked for it in District 8, Denise Amoroso plans to make herself easily accessible to every constituent. She said she’s brushing up on her homework, guided by her Christian faith.
“When King David appointed Solomon to take his place … Solomon prayed to know the difference between right and wrong,” Denise Amoroso said. “Every day, I get up and ask God for wisdom.”