By REBEKAH ALLEN
Advocate staff writer
October 22, 2012
East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle has drawn an educator and a bus system advocate as opponents in the District 7 race.
Marcelle faces Paul Brumfield, a tax consultant and member of the Baton Rouge Riders Advisory Group, and Hazel Bradley, an educator, in the Nov. 6 primary. All three candidates are Democrats.
Early voting is Tuesday through Oct. 30. A runoff, if needed, would be Dec. 8.
Marcelle, who is seeking her second term, said she’s proud of her record of fighting for programs for both young people and the elderly.
Marcelle said she’s excited that in the next few months, a youth learning center offering tutoring and mentoring will open in her district next to the Martin Luther King Jr. community center.
She said the city-parish has agreed to give the property to the East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority, which in turn will transfer it to the nonprofit that will oversee youth services in the building.
Marcelle said she actively sought private donations to fund a renovation for the blighted building that will house the center.
Marcelle said she aggressively fought to use council funds for summer youth programs in her district, but was unsuccessful. After summer ended, she was able to convince council members to allocate the funds to various community programs supporting inner-city initiatives.
She said fighting for children’s services is “near and dear to (her) heart” because keeping children and young adults occupied is one of the most effective ways to keep them away from crime.
And for the past three years, she said, she has helped organize cruises for the senior citizens in her district.
Marcelle said she’s also proud of being an advocate along with other council members for disadvantaged business enterprises, encouraging the city-parish to attain higher levels of participation with women- and minority-owned companies.
Her next priority is working with the parish Redevelopment Authority on providing affordable housing by rehabilitating blighted properties and putting them back into commerce, she said.
“This last four years has been really interesting and a lot of work has been done,” she said. “I look forward to continuing that work.”
Bradley, an intervention specialist at Capitol Elementary, said she wants to reduce crime, clean up blight and provide kids with programs.
She criticized Marcelle for co-sponsoring a measure that allocated $76,000 of council funds to the Leadership Institute, a nonprofit founded by former state Sen. Cleo Fields that provides extracurricular services and leadership training to students.
“We could have invested that money into our own community,” said Bradley, noting that Capitol Elementary School, which is in the district, doesn’t have adequate after-school programs.
Bradley said she has been personally affected by crime and is concerned law enforcement isn’t equitably dedicating its resources to fight crime.
For example, she said her 18-year-old cousin was killed last year on Bradley Street by a man on a bicycle, but police still have not made an arrest.
“In other areas, it doesn’t take as long, so use the same technology you use to find other people’s killers,” she said, noting the quick turnaround last year on the arrest of Beauregard Town resident Alexandra Engler’s killer. “What makes one side of town so different?”
Bradley also said there are street lights that don’t work in her district, which also needs more police canvassing at night.
“You need to be circling, getting familiar with the area,” Bradley said. “You can’t just be sitting at the precinct waiting for people to tell you something happened.”
Bradley said if Marcelle wins re-election, she wants her to sign a pledge committing to complete the four-year term and not seek the state senate seat when it becomes available.
Marcelle ran for District 61 state representative last year and narrowly lost in a runoff to Rep. Alfred Williams. Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis also ran for the seat but did not make it to the runoff.
Brumfield ran for the Metro Council seat four years ago but did not make it to the runoff in the crowded candidate pool.
He said his work with the Baton Rouge Riders Advisory Group, which works closely with the Capital Area Transit System, has kept him involved with the political process for several years.
“I’m familiar with the budget process and how things work and how to get things done,” Brumfield said.
He said crime, affordable housing and blighted properties are his main concerns.
Brumfield also said he’d like to focus on increasing community outreach by creating citizen committees made up of residents, businesses and religious leaders in the district and meeting with them on a regular basis.
“I’ll try to put them in touch with the agencies or nonprofit groups that may be able to resolve some issues,” he said.
Brumfield said he’d like to see law enforcement officers focus more on community policing and make an effort to use the same police officers in the same neighborhoods so residents can get to know their officers.
He suggested that at night, precinct offices could be closed so no officers would be needed to sit in an office and could instead work street patrols.
He also said public transportation, like the parish bus system, is an important part of correcting the parish’s traffic congestion problems. He said he would continue to be an advocate for CATS.
Brumfield said he’s gaining steady community support and is optimistic about his chances of winning.
“The incumbent always has the advantage,” he said. “But the support she had when she was first elected, I don’t think it’s still there.”