Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome was sworn in for her second term on Saturday morning in a virtual ceremony that emphasized the values of unity and progress for the city-parish.
Held at the River Center Branch Library, the inauguration had limited in-person attendance because of the coronavirus. Surrounded by her family and friends, Broome took the oath of office before addressing the community and her goals for the future.
Broome noted that she was elected to her first term during the tumultuous year of 2016, which saw major floods, unrest over the Alton Sterling shooting and a deadly ambush of police. As it was then, she said her goal is to help the city heal.
Throughout her speech, she highlighted her often-used metaphor, “the fabric of our community,” that illustrates how individuals are “inextricably woven together” to explore how the city has grown and changed in the intervening years.
“Today, as I stand before you, I had no idea how much that message of awareness and admonishment concerning our togetherness would ring true over my first term,” she said. “I can firmly say that the fabric of our community has been tested and stretched in ways we haven’t seen before.”
Broome said that, despite numerous challenges — including a global pandemic — the community has remained unified.
Although her speech generally supported the city's progress, she touched briefly on political conflicts that plagued much of her first term.
In addition to bemoaning what she characterized as partisan politics and the perception of deteriorating civility among elected officials, Broome alluded to the potential problems caused by the movement to create a new city of St. George and other factions that have criticized her administration in recent years, although she did not explicitly name them.
“Different tests have caused responses, concern and engagement for some more than others, but those who have love for this city and parish and have not sought to drive their own agenda, have found the intrinsic value in our togetherness,” she said.
The latter part of her speech focused on visualizing a future where Baton Rouge can continue to change and transform based on a foundation she says has already been established under her leadership.
This includes encouraging Baton Rouge residents to take pride in their city, something she says she has not always witnessed in her tenure as mayor. She also acknowledged that despite her push for “prosperity and progress,” there are significant challenges to reach these goals for many in the parish.
“We cannot deny or ignore the issues we have in our city and parish," she said. "We cannot seek to implement Band-Aid solutions."
In talking about the economy, Broome highlighted the public-private partnership model her administration has embraced and the importance of supporting diversity and inclusion in contracting to assist minority and small businesses.
“While I would welcome a utopic experience over the next four years, if my first term taught me anything our community will continue to be tested," she said. "Whether it is the ongoing pandemic and its impact or ways we can’t even imagine, we must be prepared for that fabric to be stretched and its togetherness threatened.”