After tonight’s debate, I caught up with the mayorial candidates in attendance and I asked all three of them the same exact questions. Here’s Mayorial candidate Ron Johnson.
Louisiana Conservative: What do you consider Baton Rouge’s most pressing matter?
Ron Johnson: Traffic and crime.
LC: How would you improve the traffic and infrastructure?
RJ: Presently we would have to look at our most critical needs and that is to eliminate the bottleneck on our interstate I-10 and I-12, and the way we do that is to eliminate the split by having two major arteries going downtown independent of each other. And then having frontage roads along the interstate where a large portion of our traffic would not need to get on the interstate to get to and from where they need to go. So frontage roads and eliminating the bottleneck on I-10 and I-12.
LC: You said the other thing was crime in Baton Rouge. How would you lower the crime rate?
RJ: I am proposing that we make our communities become crime concious in terms of having our Baton Rouge Police officers buy into the concept of partnership and ownership in a community. We can no longer afford to have officers coming in, responding to crime after the fact. We have to be more proactive and I would propose assigning officers to communities. Whereby the people those communities knows those officers by their first names and the officer knows the constituents by their first names. They both have an ownership interest in that community and investment for improvement. That’s proactive, that’s meeting the needs of the citizens and then building a trust relationship between the police department and the community in which they serve.
LC: City finances and taxes, what do you think needs to be done?
RJ: At this point of time, because of the local devastation of our hurricanes, Gustav and Ike, we do not need a new tax proposal of one billion dollars. On the national level we’ve seen a financial meltdown in our country and a lot of people are hurting right now. We have large portions of our people here in Baton Rouge on fixed incomes and in retirement. We do not need need a new billion dollar tax proposal. I am proposing that our critical needs be addressed with the existing budget and if we have to consolidate two budgets over the four year period of the mayor’s term, then those two years surpluses can be designated to meet the credible needs of the parish.
LC: You kind of got into my next question that is Do you plan on voting for the bond issue? What exactly do you like about the tax proposal or what don’t you like about the tax proposal?
RJ: The bond issue… the cost of it is staggering and we can not afford an attractive tourism spot on the Mississippi right now. Our people are suffering, they can barely put roofs on their homes again because of the devastation and the increase in their deductibles on their home owners policies. We need to look long term, and I’m proposing that if we are going to go in and make infrastructure changes that we do it on a short term basis, a five year concentrated effort, but nothing over a 30 year long historical, unprecedented tax issue that the mayor’s proposing at this point.
LC: What qualifies you to be our mayor?
RJ: I’m qualified, I have a tremendous amount of engineering experience. I have an engineering degree and in that engineering degree I would familiarize myself with designing traffic systems. And because of that along with my experience on the East Baton Rouge school board, I think I can have the personel to work with the federal officials to get them to earmark monies here in Louisiana along with our governor to meet the needs of Baton Rouge.