holden_webBaton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, 64, says his decision to run for the second congressional district came after serious thought and several conversations with people throughout the district. He says that if elected, he plans to lead with a focus on the people.

“When you are in these positions it should not be from Washington down, it should be from the people up,” Holden says, adding that his plans to stay close to constituents include pinpointing a liaison in each parish in the district with whom he will communicate weekly as well as making biweekly trips back to the district to “talk to the people directly.”

Holden says he will push for a higher federal minimum wage if elected.

“I’ve got to get a coalition together of Republicans and Democrats and show them the actual facts. Let me tell you about the value of a dollar now as opposed to what it was when we set the current minimum wage. And let me tell you about the conditions and the hardships people face because of this stagnant minimum wage. And then make an appeal. It’s a not a big argument the people should have. It should not be a country of the haves and have-nots.”

Holden says he will approach economic development and job creation using some of the same tactics he employed as mayor of Baton Rouge, specifically citing his role in bringing the IBM center to downtown Baton Rouge as well as his efforts to keep Orion Instruments, a manufacturer of magnetic instruments used in oil & gas, power, chemical, wastewater and other industries to keep its 50,000-square foot factory in the capitol city.

“I went out and recruited IBM to locate in Baton Rouge,” he says. We were competing with four states. Now, the first offer, they weren’t happy with, so we increased the offer by $5 million. Now IBM is located in Baton Rouge, in downtown; and they will hire another 200 to 250 people just this year. They have over 1200 people there now.”

And when Orion’s CEO announced that he was considering leaving Baton Rouge, Holden says he called him, asked him to lunch and convinced him to stay.

“I am going to be the number one salesperson for the whole congressional district. They are going to know that we are alive and well, and we are going to compete.”

Holden also answered questions regarding criticism he has taken regarding his response to the shooting death of Alton Sterling this summer, followed by protests, police response and the shooting deaths of two Baton Rouge police officers.

“The day or so after the shooting of Sterling, the DA and I got together and said let’s call the Justice Department,” he says. “We wanted to make sure that no one thinks we are going to do a cover-up. Our office was out of it. We’re still waiting for that decision to come down.”

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