Heads up, you have to vote soon and it’s not just for a new president. The Rouge Collection got answers to a few questions from Braylon Hyde, a 22-year-old candidate running for Mayor of Baton Rouge. Check out the interview below before you go to the polls.
I know how to play the violin.
First thing in the morning:
I check my Instagram.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a military child. My father was in the military so I had the opportunity to live in places like Oklahoma and Georgia.
We lived in Oklahoma for about 10 years. That’s where I got heavily involved in public service. I served various organizations such as the NAACP as president of the local chapter, as well as the state Youth Council president. I also served on the Lawton Youth Advisory Board as president.
When I lived in Oklahoma, gang violence was really, really bad.
One evening there was a high schooler involved in a shootout with the police. He was just walking down the street. An officer mistook him for one of the gang members that they were chasing that were firing at them.
We had to find a way to bridge the gap between the community and the police force. I was recruited to be a representative from the community to try to help reform policy. I had to work with the mayor, with city council. I even had the opportunity to work with State Representative T. W. Shannon. I got a chance to go to the Oklahoma state legislature and try to reform laws and get my hands dirty.
Then when I went to Georgia they were trying to reform public education, trying to grant a waiver for “No Child Left Behind”. I went to meet Georgia’s state superintendent, representing my entire region.
Before “No Child Left Behind,” before they had Common Core and this unified system, if you were a military child moving to Georgia you could find yourself in your senior year having to retake three, four, sometimes five classes, given no opportunity for electives because they wouldn’t accept the credits for the same subject from a different high school.
For example, I had to retake three classes; World Geography, American Government, and Economics. Classes I had already passed in Oklahoma or Mississippi. When I got to Georgia they said, “No, because it’s not our form of World Geography or American History.” and I’m thinking, “What’s the difference?”
So of course I fought for some reform like that issue.
I say all that to say this; I’ve always found myself in things that might have seemed like impossible task and were tasks that a person my age would be told they shouldn’t be heavily invested in. I never let my age define my ability to make a change. So when I go out and I speak to people my age I tell them my story and I tell them, “You can do the same thing.”
Even in this race, people ask me, “Do you think you can win?” and I look at it like this…if I never ran then of course I was guaranteed to lose.
You don’t drown because the water is deep, you drown because you stop kicking.
What is being a Political Science major at LSU like?
It’s interesting. It’s not necessarily the curriculum but the professors teaching that curriculum. You’ll have some professors who are strictly by the book. “Here’s the syllabus, here are the chapters, the test day is this date, go for it.” And they might ask you a few questions during the class lecture.
Then you have some professors who are very involved. They’ll elaborate on different subjects.
How has your campaign trail been so far?
Busy! I’ve learned to appreciate sleep if nothing else.
But I figure at 22, if you’re going to be going to different functions with friends, hanging out all night letting the sun beat you home, might as well do it for something that’s going to be progressive and positive.
How has running for mayor impacted your last year of school?
It has been challenging.
Scheduling is everything. It’s about keeping everything balanced but as long as I find those moments where I’m able to take a breather, everything is OK.
What are some major issued addressed in your platform?
The mayor-president has a unique opportunity to renegotiate the police union contract. Of course, I do believe our police officers should get paid more because some of them are barely above the poverty line. If you shoot an unarmed person, you’re going on administrative leave without pay. We need to include de-escalation training and regularly scheduled psychiatric evaluations because it is a high stress job. We need to make sure that mentally and emotionally they are still able to function at their job to the best of their abilities. Post-traumatic stress disorder is at an all-time high. It wasn’t a major issue 5, 10 years ago but now it has been brought to the forefront of conversations.
I would restructure the budget to be a budget of necessity. Meaning if we know we need more investments and more development in North Baton Rouge then the budget is going to reflect the majority of our tax dollars being invested in North Baton Rouge.
We need to bring an oasis to the food deserts. That also goes into economic development and job creation.
Of course we need to work with the school board to see what we can do community-wise of creating an open door policy for preparing children to be college and career ready instead of college or career ready. And maybe work on those who may not want to pursue higher education but want to dive into the workforce. Try to figure out what type of ways can incentivize businesses to allot internships to these students. That way students can possibly get certification for trades before their senior year of high school.
Also, I am the only candidate in this race who has talked about trying to seriously pursue tourism in Baton Rouge. My goal is to, in the next three years, bring an additional $300 to $400 million in revenue just based solely on tourism.
When I tell people I live in Louisiana, the first question they ask is, “How is New Orleans?” You can’t blame them. New Orleans is having a festival just because it’s a Friday.
Here in Baton Rouge we have football season, then there’s a break, then Bayou Country Fest which is also going to New Orleans, then you wait around for football season again.
I’m passionate about tourism because I’ve seen it work. It’s depressing that during the summer time people would rather take their dollars, go to Atlanta, Houston, or 80 miles up to New Orleans because Baton Rouge simply has nothing to offer its residents.
Why should Baton Rouge hire you?
Baton Rouge should hire me because I am the only candidate in this race who has no friends to reward or enemies to punish. I’m a candidate who will be dedicated to transparency and accountability and a candidate who has a proven record of defying the odds. For every issue they say that we can’t do, those are the things that I’m going to turn around and prove that we can.
How do you feel your age can benefit or hinder your platform?
You know age comes with its cons. Some people will look at me and they’ll based their opinion off of other 22 year olds. What I, and other millennials running for office, have to do is reestablish a new normal where it’s not uncommon for someone at 22 to want to be mayor of their community.
Of course I can’t really do anything about my age and even if I wasn’t running for mayor, if I was trying to do anything compared to another person who may be a little more seasoned in age, they would always bring up the age factor.
On the positive side, I’ve actually heard more encouraging stories from older generations than I have heard discouraging. A lot of people have been inspired and are happy to see that someone so young is diving out into the dangerous waters known as Louisiana politics.
What do you want people to consider when they go to vote?
I want them to get in their cars and drive around Baton Rouge and then ask themselves if they are satisfied with the way things look and with the way things are going. If the answer is ‘yes’ then they should vote for one of my 11 opponents.
If the answer is ‘no’ and they feel enough is enough, if they truly want to take a chance on change and if they truly want a leader who will be dedicated to changing what they currently see and what they have become content with, then that’s when I want them to consider Braylon Hyde.