Voters face two choices in the March 30 special election that will decide who finishes the remainder of the late metro councilman Buddy Amoroso's unexpired term.
One is Amoroso's widow, who appears steadfast in upholding the values and principles she believes contributed to her husband's re-election in 2016, and the other is a 31-year-old newcomer to local politics hoping to shake up the status quo and become a voice for "everyday" people.
Early voting kicks off Saturday and will last until March 23 between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., excluding Sunday. Whoever is elected will conclude the remaining year and 10 months left on Buddy Amoroso's four-term term, which ends Dec. 31, 2020.
Buddy Amoroso's seat on the 12-member Metro Council became a hot-button issue in the immediate aftermath of his death. The councilman was in the middle of his second term when an SUV crashed into the bicycle he was riding in West Feliciana Parish in June of last year.
The appointment of his widow, Denise Amoroso, to serve in his place until the city-parish held the special election triggered a failed attempt by Democrats on the council who wanted to block her appointment in the hope of adding another Democrat who could end the Republican's majority voting block by evenly splitting the party representation on the Metro Council.
An attempt to change how the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council fills vacancies created by deaths and resignations went down in defeat Wedn…
Democrat Brendan Csaposs is hoping to balance the scales through a win in the March 30 election in a district that, according to the parish’s Registrar of Voters Office, is 37 percent Democrat, 35 percent Republican and 28 percent "other" party affiliation.
District 8 is bounded by Old Jefferson/Tiger Bend Road to the south, O'Neal Lane to the east, South Old Hammond Highway to the north and areas between Coursey Boulevard, Airline Highway and South Sherwood Forest Boulevard to the west.
Csaposs, an educator of 10-years now serving as principal-in-residence at an IDEA Innovation charter school, is focusing on equality and civil liberties for the parish's LGBTQ and minority residents. He's also pledging to better guide future development in the area and staying on top of the district's infrastructure needs, things he said would help ensure the district doesn't become severely impacted by flood waters the way it was during the 2016 floods.
"I seek to be a new, outsider voice for the everyday people on the Metro Council," he said. "I believe in bold leadership for progressive values so that our city can be a leading metropolitan area in the south."
Csaposs says good politicians should lead by listening and seeking common ground among different stakeholders within city-parish government, while also understanding the concerns of their constituents so that "common-sense solutions" are made that improve the lives of the people they serve.
"I have raised my money through hundreds of small dollar donations because I won't be bought or bossed by anyone," he said.
So far, Csaposs has garnered endorsements from the Baton Rouge AFL-CIO, the parish's Democratic Party and the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Run for Something, both of which are national advocacy groups.
His Republican opponent, Denise Amoroso, picked up an endorsement this week from the political action committee for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
Buddy Amoroso, a popular Baton Rouge metro councilman, was killed Saturday in a bicycle accident in West Feliciana Parish.
Amoroso, who currently serves as the interim representative for the district and teaches at Christ Presbyterian School, said she wants to continue the legacy of service and commitment her husband made to constituents in the district when he was re-elected in 2016.
The platform of the 61-year-old educator consists of fighting crime, fixing drainage, alleviating traffic woes and concentrating on smart growth in the district. Amoroso said she's committed to building the parish's economic future by encouraging business growth and increasing opportunities for industry.
"I am already at work for my constituents," Amoroso said. "As a civilian-turned-official now seeing inner workings of government closely as councilwoman, I have begun to seek answers to what I see as questionable expenditures."
If elected, Amoroso has pledged to improve the city-parish's budget process by pushing for more oversight and input from the council, something that is currently lacking given the short window council members have to review budget drafts, and she wants to streamline the process by which entrepreneurs do business with the city-parish.
"Our online services must be enhanced so anyone doing business with the city-parish can do so from their computer," she said. "I chose Baton Rouge as my home nearly 40 years ago, and all of my children and grandchildren are here. They deserve a bright future, as do we all."