East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman LaMont Cole will run for election this fall to hold onto the Metro Council seat that he was appointed to in January, when he replaced Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle.
Cole, the former president of the NAACP Baton Rouge branch, said in an announcement letter Tuesday that he has enjoyed his brief time on the council thus far.
This fall will be the first time both Cole and appointed Councilwoman Erika Green will run for public office, even though they are both essentially incumbents trying to retain their seats.
Cole has taken a quieter approach to his Metro Council seat than his outspoken predecessor, Marcelle. But he has frequently cast the same votes as other black Democrats on the Metro Council. For example, he supported a new tax for the Council on Aging and for a ban on smoking in bars and casinos.
In addition, Cole voted to encourage hospitals to enter discussions with a proposed emergency room at Champion Medical Center in north Baton Rouge. The emergency room has hit a roadblock without funding from the state level as Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office considers other options for health care in north Baton Rouge.
Health care is a main issue Cole said he would want to focus on if elected back on the council.
“I plan to put emphasis on having serious conversations about primary health care access versus emergency health care access and what each looks like,” Cole said.
He said he also wants to pursue more crime prevention, push for equitable infrastructure throughout the city-parish and improve economic development.
Cole has been the principal of several Baton Rouge schools, and he said supporting high quality public education is another of his goals if he’s elected. However, the Metro Council has little to no control over Baton Rouge schools.
Before asking the Metro Council to appoint Cole to her seat, Marcelle originally said she wanted her successor to be Isaiah Marshall, the former chairman of the Capital Area Transit System. But council members worried about Marshall’s controversial background with the board, in which he did not report for two months that a board member was wiring agency money to pay personal bills.
Marcelle changed course and appointed a group of local leaders to vet her top choices. They agreed on Cole, and the council appointed him to the seat in January once Marcelle was elected to the Louisiana Legislature.