Open Letter, Why I’m Seeking to be Appointed to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council

Dear Readers,

First let me say thank you for supporting The Rouge Collection for however long you have. Our platform is nothing, without the support of the people who read it. In recent days it has been reported that I am seeking an appointment to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council. Some may ask why?

For me this is not about being for or against anyone. However, it is about advocating for what I truly believe is in the best interest of my district along with the mayor and other council members.

African Americans were freed from slavery in 1863. It took another 102 years for us to earn the right to vote. It is for me and many others a sacred responsibility and treasured liberty. I believe that the right to choose those who represent and lead us in their roles in government is one of the things that makes America great. The process of how we select those we vote for, should never be influenced by government.

In the past, the method by which the metro council has appointed people to fill vacant seats was at the discretion of the vacating member and those persons traditionally did not run for office once the term expired. There have been a few exceptions and those were that of the spouses of the person who was either elected to another post or died.

At the Wednesday meeting, the metro council will choose someone to lead in the interim for the vacant seat of Ronnie Edwards who is the newly elected State Representative for District 29 in the Louisiana Legislature.

The candidate recommended by Rep. Edwards is planning to run for the metro council seat in the fall, which I have no issue with. I do however believe that the council should not appoint people to a seat they intend to run for. Why? Because it is unfair to the voting process, it projects its will on the people. The right to vote came to African Americans after slavery and Jim Crow and nothing should taint that process.

Any candidate who is flirting with the possibility of running should not be appointed to the metro council. That person while in office for the next 11 months has the advantage of the title “Councilman/woman, three televised meetings per month, their own monthly broadcast, mailers to constituents, gained access to all city-parish department resources at their disposal over their potential opponents. This should only be a privilege to “elected officials” chosen by the people going into an election, not an “appointee” chosen by the council.

Our council members should not at any point interfere with the voting process and the right of the people to choose their leaders with balance. Some argue that the councilperson knows their constituents, we should hope so. However, this is tested every 4 years with the re-election campaigns. The councilperson’s recommendation is someone who is going to run for the seat would in essence, based on political consultants have a 30% lead going into a race. This is unfair to the voting process. It is un-American and an abuse of power in government to unfairly assist someone to have an advantage in an election.

Furthermore, I have called and ushered to the forefront the disparities of north Baton Rouge. Until recently, these topics were the conversations around our dinner tables, beauty salons, and barbershops, but never in the local newspaper. I pledge to continue to keep north Baton Rouge at the forefront of the conversations with relevance on the metro council.

There is too much work to be done, for us to risk appointing people who cannot/will not help us progress, because they are concerned about being elected in the fall. Economic development and crime can be addressed in the remaining time of this term to set a firm foundation for our next elections. My pen is my voice, and I could not formally be nominated on Wednesday and not tell you, our readers, why I’m seeking the appointment. When other writers tell the story, they lean it one way or another. This is the truth, and it will remain the truth – I believe the right vote is too precious to be tampered with by government. I promise to serve with the same passion I write. Running for the seat is not my goal, helping to make sure that we elect accountable people to all the parish wide elections is my ultimate focus.

I hope you will support me Wednesday as I attempt to be appointed to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council District 5 seat.

Best,

Gary Chambers

Publisher

The Rouge Collection