Making it official, Mayor-President Kip Holden said he will seek a third four-year term, his last consecutive term under the limits of the Plan of Government.
As is traditional in these events, Holden stressed accomplishments since his first election in 2004 and his plans for combating crime and other ills in the city in a third term.
He noted that the city's financial management has been sound, even in the midst of the huge national recession that marked the beginning of his second term.
"In 2010 and 2011, we did not have to lay off anybody. We did not have to furlough anybody," Holden said, noting that many cities across the country were "dying financially" because of the recession.
Unusually for a re-election announcement, the mayor added a specific allusion to his two biggest failures, the rejected bond issues of 2008 and 2009.
The Metro Council blocked from the ballot a third try for a comprehensive bond issue.
Upon his taking office in 2005, the mayor said, Baton Rouge was about 50 years behind in not rebuilding its infrastructure.
"We will now be 60 years behind, and this is a disgrace," he said.
The mayor's proposal for a big-ticket public works program is obviously one of the things that he believes remains important to the city.
In both failed propositions, the mayor proposed large-scale projects that are not politically sexy — unlike his popular "Green Light" program of road building adopted in 2005.
A new jail, new police headquarters and juvenile facility, a series of major drainage projects, bridge replacements, parking garages to spur more downtown development — all of these were among the projects Holden bundled together in the two election proposals.
The controversial plan for a museum/attraction on the riverfront drew a lot of fire in those elections, but the meat of the bond issues were, as Holden suggests, overdue and fundamental major projects in Baton Rouge.
In his announcement, Holden did not refer to any plans to bring up more proposals on this line. Nevertheless, we hope that the mayor and his several announced opponents will address the "disgrace" before the Nov. 6 election.
A major bond issue on meat-and-potatoes type public works projects is rarely popular because it involves raising taxes to pay off the bonds. Yet the costs of big-ticket projects are too high to do on a piecemeal basis - not a million here or there but, as Holden proposed, hundreds of millions in building costs. A 3,000-bed modern jail alone could cost an estimated $165 million.
Candidates who try to get around this political problem with an answer along the lines of "there's plenty of money in the budget" are not doing the math.
What are the plans that the mayor and his challengers have for dealing with the decades-old questions of public works in Baton Rouge?