After several contentious weeks and following city runoff elections, the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council selected District 7 Councilman LaMont Cole as mayor pro-tem with a 7-3 victory.
“I walk into this role with both humility and an unyielding focus to lead our council with my heart. I look forward to serving the entire parish and as YOUR Mayor Pro Tem YOUR collective voices will guide our work on the council,” Cole posted on Facebook.
On Saturday, January 2, 2021, Cole was sworn in to his second full term as councilman before winning the support of three Republicans — Rowdy Gaudet, Brandon Noel, and Jen Racca — and four Democrats Chauna Banks, Carolyn Coleman, Cleve Dunn Jr., and Erika Green–to lead the metro council over Councilman Dwight Hudson.
He is the third Black mayor pro tem in the 203-year history of East Baton Rouge Parish, following Thomas Woods (Dist. 2) and Lorri Burgess (Dist. 10). He is also the first Black councilman selected to serve a full term as pro-tem. “This is like a crown that has been placed, not on my head, but above my head,” Cole said after the vote. “This will require me, in the rest of my life, in my attempt to work hard and prove myself worthy of growing tall enough to wear it.”
With three Republican councilmembers voting across party, Cole’s selection could indicate a promising shift in how the city leaders will work together during the next four years. The council now has five new members: Gaudet, Noel, Racca, Dunn, and Coleman.
The mayor pro-tem presides over council meetings and fills in for the mayor-president when they are not available. The pro tem sets the tone for meetings and maintains order which includes unilaterally stopping a public speaker or colleague if they decide their comments are off-topic or disruptive.
The democrat leader is a graduate of LSU with a bachelor of arts degree in general studies and a graduate of Southern University where he earned a master’s of education in administration and supervision. He also previously held high-profile education roles including the principal of Park Forest Middle, principal of Capitol Middle School, assistant principal of Westdale Middle School, and chief academic officer for ADVANCE Baton Rouge. He is also a former president of the Baton Rouge NAACP.
During his re-election campaign, Cole said, “A leader is not defined by one’s title, but by one’s action. Our people deserve a leader who speaks to them, with them, and for them. I am that leader.”
In voting him to mayor pro tem, the council agrees.
By Candace J. Semien