After a closely contested election, Sharon Weston Broome finally makes history for emerging as the first Black female mayor of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Broome, 60, beat her opponent, Mack “Bodi” White (R-La.), in a tight race with 52 percent of the vote. She’ll succeed fellow democrat Kip Holden. Holden served for 12 years as the first black mayor of the city.
“Tonight Baton Rouge made a statement, a statement that we are a city of inclusion,” Broome said in her acceptance speech. “That we are a place of hope and optimism. A place where little boys and little girls of all walks of life know that they can grow up and lead a city no matter what their color or gender.”
Broome, who previously served as state representative and state senator, ran a campaign focused on healing and unifying the city, Nola.com reports. She also highlighted the need to invest in education, healthcare, low-income communities and criminal justice reform.
Baton Rouge Elects Its First Black Woman Mayor
Sharon Weston Broome says she will work to unify & heal the city plagued by racial tension.👍🏾 pic.twitter.com/AIIQaADcxA
— Crystal Johnson (@Crystal1Johnson) December 13, 2016
“Being unified is not only part of a vision for our future, it’s the backbone of the process that takes us there,” she said. “We will work for the next four years to make our city an example of how to heal and progress past the hurt that we have seen.”
The former state senator’s win over Republican state Sen. Bodi White gives East Baton Rouge Parish its fourth term in a row with a Democrat at the helm, The Advocate reports. It was a close race, with the two candidates neck and neck as the returns rolled in Saturday night.
The first Black female mayor, Broome, 60, vowed to be a champion for children and college students as well as the underpaid and overlooked — people working long hours in low-wage positions to make ends meet or struggling with mental health concerns.
As she had stressed in her campaign, Broome promised to represent Baton Rouge from Scotlandville to Southdowns. She listed neighborhoods across the parish which she plans to serve to a crescendo of cheering from the crowd.
It had been touch and go throughout the night as results trickled in. Early numbers put White ahead, but Broome surged as later precincts reported their numbers, and the band broke out a rendition of “Celebration” when 91 percent of the precincts gave Broome the edge.
She thanked White for his willingness to serve the parish and said she would work with him as he serves out his term in the state Senate.
Outgoing three-term Mayor-President Kip Holden’s term expires at the end of 2016, and Broome is expected to be sworn in soon afterward.
— WAFB (@WAFB) December 11, 2016
More than 100 supporters for White mingled in the new, downtown Watermark hotel throughout the evening. The crowd fell silent once it became apparent Broome won, but showered White with applause as he took the microphone.
White said he called to congratulate Broome before he addressed his supporters.
He said he did not regret any part of his campaign, and that the core issues he ran on — traffic, education and crime — still need to be addressed. He congratulated Broome several times in his speech.
“I told her we’re all rooting for her success,” he said. “I offered to help her in any way I can. I love this city and I love this parish.”
After the crowded mayoral primary, which had to fight for attention with the U.S. Senate and presidential races, the runoff between Broome and White grew into a more heated battle.
Broome painted White throughout the campaign as a divisive leader. She frequently brought up his unsuccessful push to carve a new school district for the southeast part of the parish out of the public school system, a movement that eventually grew into the unsuccessful quest to create a new city called St. George.
In the Legislature, Broome focused her career on bills related to children and families, giving subsidies to struggling grandparents thrust into raising their grandchildren and making it easier for domestic violence victims to break leases to escape abusers.
Sharon Weston Broome Is First Black Female Mayor Of Baton Rouge https://t.co/0BeiOxKGta
— Praise 1025 Atlanta (@praise1025) December 13, 2016
A flood victim herself, Broome ran television ads showing her gutted home and promised to help the owners of tens of thousands of flooded homes rebound “stronger than ever.” She also vowed to replace Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Carl Dabadie and to hire a chief who would restore trust between BRPD and citizens in the city’s most heavily policed neighborhoods.
This is good news! We celebrate this historic victory with the Black community of Baton Rouge. It is a triumph for all Black people. On Broome’s election as the first Black female mayor in Baton Rouge, we are hopeful to see a tangible improvement in the lives of the Black people in that city.