In Louisiana, it is said that there are five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter and, of course, hurricane season. I would suggest that there is a sixth season: political season. Although much shorter than a weather-related season, its impact can be just as devastating and destructive. As we enter into another political season, proper preparation is essential to survival, just in case the perfect political storm comes ashore. There exists within our community the opportunity to build new coalitions, new storm shelters to address our ever-pressing needs.

Let’s get prepared for the barrage of television campaign ads, mailers, radio spots and robo phone calls that will be developed and implemented by expensive consultants whose main objective will be to sway our opinion for one candidate or another. It seems to be abundantly clear that the vast majority of voters will choose to ride out the storm by allowing this process to be their primary source of influence. What’s the harm in a 30-second sound bite or a third-party mailer? As a former elected official, I am acutely aware of the influence of money on the electoral process.

However, one thing that some politicians fear most is an informed electorate that demands accountability. I can’t help but imagine that if we prepared differently, asked the right questions, frame the discussion and engage a true vetting process for candidates, that our ability to survive Louisiana’s sixth season would dramatically increase.

Understanding and articulating the issues that are important to our community will help us to be better prepared. Let’s give the politicians the salient issues and demand that they offer leadership irrespective of their party affiliation. This election, my family and I are committed to asking the right questions and raising issues that are relevant.

We are sick of the crime problem in Baton Rouge.

Why do we allow certain parts of north Baton Rouge to resemble a war zone?

That poverty and lack of employment opportunities among African-American males is an epidemic.

We should demand that every child have a high-quality education, and if their coursework is not college preparatory, it should prepare him/her for real-time employment opportunities that pay livable wages and salaries.

That we expect universal access to a primary care physician so that the difference between life and death does not depend on what side of town one resides.

How can we reasonably and responsibly bridge the racial divide and economic disparity that exists in Baton Rouge?

This political season, let’s begin to change the narrative and ask better questions. I believe if we do, as a community we will survive the storm.

Michael Jackson

attorney and former state representative

Baton Rouge