Sharon Weston Broome (born October 1, 1956) is the Mayor-President of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the second African-American to fill the position. A Democrat, she was the first person of her race to be elected to the Louisiana State Senate. She held the District 15 seat from 2005 to 2016. She was elected mayor-president in a runoff election held on December 10, 2016. Broome is the first African-American woman to serve as mayor-president.
She was preceded as both mayor-president and state senator by her fellow African-American Democrat Kip Holden, who in 2016 ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 24, 2015. Victory went instead to the Republican Billy Nungesser. From 2008 to 2016, Broome was the President Pro Tempore of the state Senate. In 2011, she was elected to her second full Senate term without opposition.
Broome was succeeded in the state Senate by Regina Barrow, who had also followed her in the state House of Representatives. Barrow was succeeded in the House by Metro Council member Ronnie Edwards, who died of pancreatic cancer after only forty-four days of service. Both Barrow and Edwards were coincidentally born in Wilkinson County, Mississippi.
Early life and career
From 1992 to 2004, Broome was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 29. She was succeeded by her legislative assistant, Regina Barrow. From 1996 to 2003, she was Chairman of Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee. Broome was elected Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, the first woman to have held that position. Broome is hence the first woman to serve in the number-two leadership position in both legislative chambers.
In 2002, Representative Broome introduced House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 74 which condemned "Darwinism" as justifying racism and Nazism. The bill was amended to remove allusions to Darwin and passed. In 2012, she sponsored a bill requiring doctors to let a woman hear the heartbeat of a fetus (if present) before performing an abortion. The bill was signed into law by Republican then Governor Bobby Jindal on June 8, 2012.
Before being elected to state office, Broome, a native of Chicago, Illinois, served on the Baton Rouge Metro Council. She holds two degrees in communications and worked as a reporter for WBRZ-TV for five years.
Broome was among the state and local officials who endorsed the unsuccessful reelection in 2014 of Democrat U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
2016 mayoral election
Term-limited in the Senate, Broome was the first candidate to declare her intentions to run in 2016 to succeed Kip Holden as Mayor-President for East Baton Rouge Parish. Several Republican candidates also ran; the Republican state Senator Bodi White in turn lost to Broome the runoff election held on December 10, 2016. White received 55,241 votes (48 percent) to Broome's 59,737 (52 percent).
Broome was sworn into office on January 2, 2017.
She is married to Marvin Alonzo Broome and they have three children.
Controversy and criticism
As Mayor-President, Broome in April 2017 appointed Troy Bell as the city-parish Chief administrative officer (CAO), but he resigned after less than a week in the $144,000 annual post after it was disclosed that he does not hold the master's degree in public administration that he had claimed in his resume. Broome tapped James Llorens of Baton Rouge as the interim CAO. Several human resources professionals claim that the Bell selection could have been avoided had Broome followed a different approach to vetting candidates for appointments. Broome announced thereafter that she will spearhead the search for her next CAO selection to prevent problems like those that surfaced in the Bell case.
In July 2017, calls were made for the Louisiana Legislative Auditor and the State Inspector General to investigate the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Program (BRAVE) contracts being issued by the office of Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome. The questionable contracts first came to light as a result of public records requests by the 9NEWS Investigative Team. In August 2017, Broome suspended all BRAVE contracts issued from mid-June to mid-July.
In August 2017, Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore announced that he was seeking a list of confidential informant names that were erroneously released by Mayor-President Broom's office.
In August 2018, Broome proposed a half-cent sales tax, rather than a property tax, to fund the proposed MoveBR roads program under consideration by the Metro Council. If approved by the council, the measure would then be placed on the December 8 ballot. Broome said that the sales tax is preferred so as not to place the entire burden on property owners. Many residents, she said, encouraged her to pursue the sales tax as "more equitable" than a property tax though sales taxes are regressive in nature. Voters approved the half-cent sales tax on December 8, 2018, in what is viewed as a big victory for the mayor-president that demonstrates her being able to garner bipartisan support from the business community.