September 25, 2022

Neighborhood revitalization, economic development top priorities in District 5 Metro Council race | News

The two candidates running for the District 5 seat on the East Baton Rouge Metro Council both say neighborhood revitalization and small business development would be top priorities if they’re elected come November.

The district, which is currently represented by councilwoman Erika Green, covers much of north Baton Rouge and stretches from Monte Sano Park and Zion City through Merrydale and into Monticello. Its population is 88 percent Black and 9 percent White. 

Green, 35, a Democrat, was first appointed to the seat in 2016 after her predecessor, Ronnie Edwards, was elected to the statehouse. She later won reelection and she says she is running again to complete the work she’s started. 

She’s facing off against Darryl Hurst, a small-business owner who describes himself as a solutions-oriented problem solver, interested in strengthening families and filling in the gaps he’s encountered in his role running a sports-oriented nonprofit.

“I believe that north Baton Rouge is the forgotten land,” Hurst, 36, a Democrat, said, adding that at the moment, the community is voiceless.

Hurst said residents in District 5 are routinely overlooked by the city-parish, even when they file complaints through 311, and said it’s clear that when it comes to allocating resources in local government, the “squeaky wheel gets the oil.” He wants to create a coalition of north Baton Rouge neighborhood associations that can sing out in unison “like a choir” and advocate as one. 

Green similarly pointed to neighborhood engagement as a priority, and said she was proud to help reestablish several neighborhood associations and reinvigorate the Charles R. Kelly Community Center during her tenure. 

In addition to district-level successes, Green said on the campaign trail she’s touting policy achievements on the Metro Council that have bettered the entire parish.

She highlighted her work sponsoring an ordinance to curb sex trafficking at hotels and motels in the parish, as well as her advocacy for a resolution that supported local control over minimum wage increases. She also cited her success in loosening the city’s noise ordinance, which had been disproportionately enforced against Black residents. 

“Most council members can’t say they’ve done policy work,” Green said, noting she frequently works across the aisle to get measures approved. 

Green said that if she’s reelected, she’d prioritize crime prevention as well as small business development. She said the district has prime locations for entertainment and food-service industries and said she’d hold the Baton Rouge Area Chamber accountable for attracting new businesses.

Hurst said he’d work to create merchant associations among local businesses. The coalitions would create an avenue for businesses to pool their resources and work together to fund and support security and beautification to attract additional customers.

“People of all walks of life, all levels of income come to Tony’s Seafood,” Hurst noted of the famous restaurant in the district. “It’s because their façade looks great, their parking lot is clean and they have a great product.” 

Hurst, who owns an AT&T solutions provider agency, was born in Baton Rouge and attended Southern University Lab School and later the university itself as a college athlete. He is married with two children. 

Around five years ago, Hurst started a sports-oriented nonprofit focused on education and community service, a role that helped him better understand the challenges facing the district. 

Hurst said that when he looks at city government, he sees officials having “meetings about meetings about meetings about meetings,” oftentimes about the simplest of problems. He said he’s always looked to close gaps in the community, and said he’d carry that mantra through to city-parish government. 

Green was born in Baton Rouge and went to Bellaire High School before attending Prairie View A&M University and later law school at Southern University. For the last nine years, she’s worked as solo practitioner focusing on civil, family and estate law. She said “literacy is her passion” and noted she has a nonprofit focused on reading and culture in the African American community. 

“In order to keep your community involved, you have to have community pride,” Green said. “I consider District 5 my baby.”

Early voting for the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 16-27, excluding Sunday, Oct. 18, and Sunday, Oct. 25, from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

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