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Baton Rouge’s 1st Black Female Mayor Hopes to Unify a City Torn Apart by Racial Strife

Sharon Weston Broome (Sharon Broome official website)

Sharon Weston Broome (Sharon Broome official website)

Residents of Louisiana’s state capital of Baton Rouge elected their first Black female mayor over the weekend. Sharon Weston Broome, a former state senator, will succeed Baton Rouge’s first Black mayor Kip Holden, whose 12-year term has wrapped.

According to The Times-Picayune, Broome, a Democrat, won the runoff election over Republican Sen. Bodi White with just over 3 percent of the votes separating the candidates. After winning with 51.83 percent of the vote, Broome became mayor-president of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish Saturday, Dec. 10.

Before her win, WAFB reported Broome was a member of the state legislature for 24 years, serving as a state representative for 14 years beginning in 1991 before going to the Senate and becoming the first woman in the role for District 15. She also became the Pro Tempore of both the House and the Senate.

“Tonight, Baton Rouge made a statement,” Broome said, according to The Times-Picayune. “A statement that we are a city of inclusion. This is an opportunity to rise from the ashes of the past six months and write a new chapter, a new chapter that we can all be proud of.”

Broome’s campaign was largely based on promoting unity in a parish wracked with police brutality incidents since two cops killed Alton Sterling on July 5. Two days later, a peaceful protest was disrupted with gunfire after Army veteran Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire, killing five police officers and wounding nine others. Aside from social problems, Louisiana also was hit with historic flooding in August.

“This has been a challenging year with the killing of Alton Sterling and the killing of the police officers,” said Broome, who was personally affected by the flood. “I want to bring the citizens of this community together and law enforcement together. I want to be the mayor who leads the effort to rebuild and recover.”

Broome will be inaugurated as mayor-president on Dec. 31.

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