A new year brings with it the optimism of a fresh start and all the possibilities for success in the 12 months ahead. We make resolutions of what changes we desire to improve our lives and goals for our businesses and community. Whether these happen depends on each one of us and our commitment—and the leadership to bring our team together.
We begin a new era in our parish and region. In fact, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Baton Rouge in 2017. Congratulations to Mayor-elect Sharon Weston Broome, U.S. Sen.-elect John Kennedy and all of our members of the Metro Council, re-elected or newly elected. While there is great potential ahead, there are major challenges as well. Mayor Kip Holden has led our parish for 12 years and deserves our thanks for his service as he passes the baton.
As the election results indicated, our parish is divided. This past year has been a rough one—both locally and nationally. If we truly want to continue to compete as a capital city for jobs, we must put the elections behind us. The Bible says, “A house divided against itself will not stand.” And it is said, “United we stand, divided we fall.” We all know examples of this to be true, whether it is on a sports team, in families, businesses or a community. That does not mean we cannot disagree or debate, but in the end, a team is always stronger and wins more when it pulls together.
We need both sides to be open-minded, reach out and find common ground, build relationships—and find creative solutions. Can that happen?
Many of the Republican opponents of Broome are Donald Trump supporters. They are expecting Trump’s critics to give him a chance to prove himself as president. That’s fair. Trump’s variety of cabinet appointments have surprised and even impressed many. The private and public sector have both been included, and some appointees had been critics in his own party. Trump still included them. Since the election, he has sat down with many of the same people who vigorously opposed him, including the tech giants. These CEOs, from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to Apple’s Tim Cook, understand the election is over and it is in everyone’s interest to find solutions to grow the economy and move our country forward over the next four years. A rising tide lifts all boats.
So, Trump supporters in East Baton Rouge Parish should be open-minded and extend that same opportunity to Broome as our new mayor. Give her a chance. If she succeeds, doesn’t EBR win? And isn’t that an admirable goal for the new year?
I applaud state Sen. Bodi White and his attitude. He told The Advocate, “I told her (Broome) we’re all rooting for her success. I offered to help her in any way I can. I love this city and I love this parish.” White will be important in our state Legislature and in uniting our city-parish.
We need more players on the field with a team spirit—not critics in the stands. I have agreed to get involved and help facilitate the discussion on economic development as part of the Mayor’s Transition Committee. Jobs are critical to our future and we need to be innovative. This is our hometown and we should all want to contribute and see it thrive. The time is now.
ON THE HORIZON
Baton Rouge continues to grow and our landscape continues to change with some impressive buildings underway, including the new downtown library, the Water Institute of the Gulf on the old city dock and the new @Highland building being developed by General Informatics at Bluebonnet Boulevard and Highland Road. There are more projects underway across the region and more on the way. Good news for the capital area.
Daniel Wesley, a 17-year-old Central High senior, is a hero. Recently, while driving home on Essen Lane after shopping, he saw April Peck lying in the road and he stopped to help her. I’m sure you have heard the story. Peck’s boyfriend, who had shot her, turned his car around and came back to shoot Wesley twice and run over him. Wesley is now recovering from his multiple injuries, and there is a GoFundMe page for him to help with expenses. This good Samaritan and hero deserves our thanks and support for setting the example during this tragedy, and making such a sacrifice for another one of God’s children. This is what makes our community special—people like Daniel Wesley.
Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family, as well as the Peck family and April Peck’s two young sons in their loss. There is also a GoFundMe page for her children.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR
I can’t believe another year is coming to an end. Time flies as you get older—or watch your children and grandchildren grow up. It has been a tumultuous and historic 12 months in our Capital Region—but also one of growth. We continue to rebuild and heal. Neither is easy.
There will always be challenges in our city, state and nation—and 2017 will be no different. But the new year will also bring new opportunities. How we handle both will determine our year ahead. We still live in the greatest country on earth and we can all count our blessings every day.
I want to wish you, your family and staff a safe and joyous Christmas holiday. And I pray that, as Baton Rouge celebrates its bicentennial in 2017, it will be a year filled with peace and prosperity.