Mayor-President Kip Holden on Monday blasted Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel for comments she posted about him on Facebook.
And the mayor-president also took aim at Gary Chambers, who as moderator of a forum last week asked Holden asked about the lack of development in north Baton Rouge.
In her Facebook post this weekend, Banks-Daniel said redevelopment has been sluggish and inequitable in north Baton Rouge compared with other areas of the parish that have flourished under Holden’s administration. She added that she supported Holden’s bid for lieutenant governor, in part to make way for a new mayor who could better serve the poorer areas of the parish.
At last week’s candidates forum at Southern University, Holden was pointedly asked by Chambers about the disparity in economic development in the northern part of Baton Rouge, which has a majority black population and has a lower income base than the rest of the parish.
On Monday, Holden lambasted both Banks-Daniel and Chambers, defending his record in north Baton Rouge while casting Banks-Daniel as the one who has turned her back on her constituents.
“Maybe she needs to start talking to people in Scotlandville because they haven’t seen anything she’s done either,” he said in a phone interview.
Holden called Chambers a “fraud” who was being paid to write negative things about him. Chambers, an activist and publisher of TheRougeCollection.net, a commentary website dedicated to local black issues, said last week that after hearing Holden’s remarks about north Baton Rouge in the forum, he had decided to support Holden’s Republican opponent in the race, Billy Nungesser, who is white. Chambers posted about his decision to cross party lines on his website and on Facebook.
Banks-Daniel chimed in on the Facebook thread, noting that she agreed she has yet to see the types of improvement projects in her north Baton Rouge district that she sees in other parts of the parish, including downtown and south Baton Rouge.
“It takes a visionary that gives equitable opportunity to ALL areas of the city,” she wrote. “Currently, I can say specifically that in District 2, the district I represent on the Metro Council has not had that kind of support.”
She went on to say she has supported the vast majority of agenda items as a council member that has benefited other areas of the parish, such as economic development incentives to lure businesses and events to the city and suburbs. “However, since I have been on the council the only project that has come along in my district has been street paving and sidewalks for Fairchild/Bradley Road,” she wrote.
When asked by others in the thread whether to support Holden or Nungesser in the Nov. 21 runoff for lieutenant governor, Banks-Daniel said she voted for Holden, “mostly because his ascension to Lt. Governor will possibly advance the cause of NBR with the next mayor!”
Holden says he stands by his record in north Baton Rouge.
“For them to say we’ve done nothing in north Baton Rouge, they have to be living in a silo,” he said. He noted his Healthy Cities initiative has targeted low-income areas, including Banks-Daniel’s district.
He cited the Fairchild Bradley road improvements and street improvements on Blount Road, Veterans Memorial Boulevard and Ford Street. He also noted that the city frequently partners with Southern University.
He then accused Banks-Daniel of trying to use funds from the community center in her district to benefit herself and her friends. Asked for details, he said, “I don’t get into the community center management, except to say, that back in the days gone by, she would probably be before a grand jury by now.”
Banks-Daniel responded that her comments about the lack of improvements in her district reflect only her district and her three years on the council, and some of the improvements Holden cited were not made during her tenure.
“If he thinks that’s a remarkable record, I won’t argue that,” she wrote in an email.
She dismissed Holden’s criticism of her management of the north Baton Rouge community center, adding that she’s been the one who’s had to clean it up after years of mismanagement.
“The only reason Mayor Holden is responding defensively is because he must feel threatened right now regarding the Lt. Governor’s race,” she wrote.
As for Chambers, Holden said, “We know he’s being paid by an entity to do negative campaigning against me.”
Holden said the candidate forum where he shared the stage with Nungesser was a “setup.”
“He was not professional,” Holden said of Chambers. “Using the word professional with him would be an insult to actual professionals.”
Chambers said in an interview that he is not receiving any funds from Nungesser, or any Republicans, and had never met him before the forum. He said Holden’s response was “vindictive and spiteful.”
“He’s lying because he cannot defend his record in north Baton Rouge,” Chambers said. He added that it’s “disgusting that a mayor can be satisfied with not doing enough for the people in his parish who look just like him.”
In response to a question from Chambers at the forum, Holden said that businesses coming to Baton Rouge such as IBM are hiring people all across the parish, including north Baton Rouge. But pressed on the issue, he said investors are just not interested in developing the north Baton Rouge community.
Chambers said he has voted for Holden in every election since 2004 when he was first elected mayor-president. Chambers even voted for Holden last month in the primary for lieutenant governor.
“I’m not voting for him again,” Chambers said. “Sending him to the next level is only promoting him to another level to leave us behind.”
Holden and Nungesser face off for lieutenant governor on Saturday.