Maybe it is hard to believe after the horrendous events of last year, natural and man-made, but it's a pretty good time for East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome to assume the post she won in December's runoff election.
She does not come into office facing horrendous budget deficits like New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu did in 2010, or the similar problems left to new Gov. John Bel Edwards or new Mayor-President Joel Robideaux in Lafayette last January.
Baton Rouge's economic performance, for a long time one of the truly bright growth spots in Louisiana, should be positive in the new year, even after an oil price slump hit many parts of the state.
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber recently forecast continued growth, though perhaps not at the torrid rates of recent years. By the third quarter of last year, the nine-parish region had experienced a 2.3 percent increase in jobs, surpassing its projected growth rate of 1.9 percent for the entire year.
A conservative BRAC forecast of 1.5 percent job growth in 2017 would translate to approximately 6,000 new jobs in the region.
While a new mayor-president will want to put her own stamp on city hall, she inherits a functioning government apparatus from term-limited Kip Holden and his chief administrator, William Daniel. Although Broome will want new ideas and initiatives from her numerous transition teams, day-to-day functions continue.
Given that she just won a hard-fought runoff on Dec. 10, expectations for immediate changes are tempered, and Broome has some grace period to organize city hall.
Where she will be hurting, a bit, is in revenues to make new ideas happen. City-parish government suffered some defeats on Dec. 10 with the rejection of major tax proposals for road repairs and a new mental health facility. Broome endorsed the plans but, like runoff opponent Bodi White, she was obviously busy with her own race; few will hold those negative results against her.
What the defeats underline is that new revenues are going to be hard to come by, and difficult challenges remain out there. Roads don't build themselves; the jail costs money as it is clogged with the mentally ill who should be getting treatment elsewhere.
As for the challenges facing the Baton Rouge Police Department, a verdict in the Alton Sterling shooting case must be faced sometime soon; the national spotlight can be an unforgiving one, as Holden learned last year. If race relations are Baton Rouge's "Achilles heel," as Broome said in her inaugural, such conditions are rarely improved overnight.
Broome is looking for a new chief of police, but changes are difficult to make in an organization with strict seniority rules and a strong union that twice last year endorsed other candidates for mayor-president.
Broome's public life has been spent mostly in the Legislature, not in an executive capacity. Still, this is not her first rodeo, and relations with the Metro Council and community leaders are in the honeymoon phase.
Holden's last term was marked with political tussles that have perhaps obscured his considerable accomplishments since 2005. An application of personal charm by the new mayor could be a welcome contrast.
That, alas, takes one only so far.