Publisher: Choose solutions on Dec. 8 ballot


    Parishwide MovEBR Roads and traffic tax: YES

    You have seen the old Fram oil filter commercials where a mechanic warns you about costly engine repairs versus proper maintenance on your car and says, “It’s your choice—you can pay me now, or pay me later.” I thought about this when I was considering my decision on the roads tax on the Dec. 8 ballot. One could argue we did not maintain our infrastructure by paying for it in the past—so now we are faced with paying much more later to fix the problem. This is an important decision regarding a major problem in our parish: traffic. It’s not going away on its own, just getting more expensive.

    The MovEBR tax plan will be a half-cent sales tax for 30 years and raise about $912 million; that will be combined with $200 million in federal funds for $1.1 billion in improvements. There are more than 60 road projects the plan will address—many long overdue—that can help relieve our reliance on the interstates and improve the flow on surface streets.

    It’s funded by a sales tax that will be paid by all in the parish, as well as those who live outside our parish but travel the roads in EBR. Tourists will also contribute.

    So what is in the plan and what are the costs? Well, you should check out the specifics at movebr.net and see the list, map, details and where the money goes before you vote.

    Look, we experience traffic jams every day and complain just as often. More often than complaining about rainy weather. But we can’t change the weather. We also know that Baton Rouge has the best economy in the state and our region will continue to grow. That will just make traffic worse. So what is the answer?

    There is a plan on the ballot Dec. 8. While everyone hates traffic, some are just fed up with taxes, particularly ones passed recently. I’m angry, too. But do I cut off my nose to spite my face?

    While everyone hates traffic, some are just fed up with taxes, particularly ones passed recently. I’m angry, too. But do I cut off my nose to spite my face?

    I am also angry that we are having to fix problems created by politics in the past—and that includes under Fred Raiford, the former head of DPW who is back in city-parish government in charge of transportation. How is he held in check by the mayor? Part of the plan is for synchronization of traffic signals, which Raiford was supposed to be working on when he was in charge before.

    Traffic here stinks—bad. The good news is the proposed MovEBR tax can only be spent on projects in the plan. The projects can’t be changed without another vote of the people.

    Go to movebr.net. Examine the benefits to you and the parish and what it will costs you, then decide if it’s a good return on your investment. We each get to decide.

    With any investment, there is risk. The need is obvious every day. The plan appears reasonable and equitable. The execution of the plan is where the risk lies. The investors deserve regular reports from those in charge and must hold them accountable for the dollars to be spent as presented and timely—or we should run them out of town.

    When I sit in traffic fuming at the obvious lack of vision, I want someone’s head to roll for the past failures. But I realize, we got the government we deserved and elected for decades. We also got the infrastructure we were willing to pay for, which was severely lacking. So the blame is shared by all. We have reaped what we sowed—or didn’t sow.

    I am a Baton Rouge native and my children and grandchildren live here. I want their quality of life to improve in the Capital Region, and I feel a responsibility to prepare for their future. I know there is no shortcut and our backs are against the wall. Sadly, that is typical when we make decisions due to a reluctance to change. So with some anger and trepidation, I am willing to take the risk on this plan and invest in the future to solve our horrific traffic congestion that has grown due to lack of trust and action.

    Voting no may feel good and could be justified. You can vote no—but it won’t solve our traffic problem, and we will continue to suffer our plight daily. We can all pay now, or our children and grandchildren can pay more later. We have all allowed this traffic mess to get worse, and it is on us to take responsibility to fix it. I will take the risk and vote YES in hopes of a better future for my grandchildren.

    Parishwide mental health treatment center tax: YES

    I supported this solution two years ago, and like our traffic, the problem has not gone away. This center addresses a need in our community that can save lives, save time for law enforcement and ultimately save money. The Bridge Center for Hope will be a respite center, a first stop where first responders can bring those who are having a mental health crisis or are dealing with substance abuse and need to be assessed and stabilized. It’s an admirable alternative to taking them to the parish prison, where they sometimes stay for weeks or months (which is very costly) or to a hospital emergency room, where the officer must remain with them for hours.

    The proposition is for a 10-year, 1.5-mill property tax that’s estimated to generate $6.1 million a year for the crisis stabilization center. The plan projects taxpayer savings of some $55 million over the next 10 years in incarceration and health care costs.

    For a $200,000 home, the cost would be $1.50 a month. This center is the right way to handle our family members, neighbors and citizens in such situations—and solves a serious problem that won’t go away.

    District Attorney Hillar Moore, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Coroner Beau Clark and Capital Area Human Services Executive Director Jan Kasofsky see this issue first hand and all support this initiative. I join with them.

    Secretary of State: Kyle Ardoin

    This was a quiet statewide race, and most voters didn’t know the candidates as money was scarce. Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, made the runoff with Gwen Collins-Greenup, an attorney from Clinton who spent less than $5,000. (Being the first Democrat on the ballot did help.)

    Ardoin has worked in the office but claimed he would not run for the seat when named interim. This is Collins-Greenup’s first run for office. She says her experience in government includes serving as a legal secretary with the Louisiana Department of Labor, a deputy clerk of court with the East Feliciana Parish Clerk of Court, and director of the Criminal/Traffic Division with Baton Rouge City Court.

    I feel lots of questions remain about both of these candidates but I also know that voters are nervous these days about our elections and want to feel secure. In this case, Ardoin’s tenure and experience in the major office is important with a significant election season in 2019. There is no room for error.

    City Constable: Gordon “Trey” Bargas

    Bargas was a city police officer for 21 years and is now in real estate. Bargas is a father of three, a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge and is committed to serving our community. He wants to look at more technology in the office and expand community outreach.

    EBR School Board, District 2: Dadrius Lanus

    Lanus is an educator and believes we need “a new view for District 2.” He wants to get more parents involved and claims there are no community meetings under the incumbent, Vereta Lee. He pledges not to take any salary as a board member but to put that money back into District 2.