Though she's not quite a full year into her first term as Baton Rouge's mayor-president, Sharon Weston Broome traveled this week to Cambridge, Mass., to bestow advice to newly elected mayors from across the country at the Harvard Institute of Politics' JFK Jr. forum.
Broome told attendees at Tuesday's forum that she's proud of her efforts to improve education in Baton Rouge despite the structure of a city-parish government that gives her little authority over the school system. Thus far, Broome has convened a joint meeting of the Metro Council and School Board and her administration has created a Facebook page for her Cradle to K initiative to help families with young children connect with others.
The joint meeting of the School Board and Metro Council was a discussion meeting and did not include any action items. The Cradle to K Facebook page has not been updated since Oct. 24 and had fewer than 500 followers as of Nov. 28.
The spokeswoman for Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome accepted a new job as Southern University's communications director on Tu…
But Broome told forum attendees she was proud of the steps she's taken so far, according to an online video stream of her presentation.
"One of the first things I did was to bring our School Board together with our City Council. That had never been done before," she said. "And believe it or not, that went over really well, and there was a desire to continue those conversations."
The Harvard Institute of Politics panel, called "Cities as Laboratories for Innovation: What the Country Can Learn," featured Broome alongside mayors from Kansas City, Missouri and South Bend, Indiana.
Broome said she is thankful to be part of consortia where she's met mayors from across the country. She said she occasionally calls others for advice and sometimes they reach out to her as well.
All three mayors on the panel described facing similar problems: a lack of funding for projects they would like to pursue, weighing how much to incentivize businesses to create job and trying to think through how transportation will look differently in their cities decades from now.
With due regard for the independence and vast powers of the Metropolitan Council of East Baton Rouge Parish, maybe there are lessons they coul…
"As someone who just tried to get a bond initiative on the ballot and it did not get on the ballot, we have to look creatively and innovatively at other ways to provide funding for infrastructure and other needs of our city," Broome said, referring to her failed attempt to place a Better Transportation and Roads tax on ballots this fall.
Asked about leadership styles, Broome said she tries to embody servant leadership. She said she has tried to break down silos in City Hall.
"While I didn't have the budget to reconstruct my office, I have made it very distinctively clear and intentional that I have an open-door policy to anyone and everyone, including not just our senior staff," Broome said. "If you see my door open, that's an invitation for you to come in."