The Planning Commission is continuing its interviews of finalists for the city-parish planning director job today. Three people will be interviewed today, on the heels of three interviews Friday.
The Commission plans to meet at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the next step toward naming a hire – either selecting one of the six candidates interviewed, narrowing the field to a group that will go through a second round of interviews or starting the process over. Commission Chair Tara Wicker, who also serves on the Metro Council, said she believes the commission will be able to reach a consensus on a hire, though.
Interviews will be made available on government access channel Metro 21′s website.
You can read through the Friday recap here. Some highlights from Saturday’s interviews:
Up first on Saturday was Don Broussard, who owns Town Planning & Design LLC in Atlanta.
A Lake Charles-native with a degree from LSU, Broussard had his wife and parents at the meeting for his public interview.
“We’ve had good close ties to this city, this parish and the state of Louisiana,” he said.
Broussard previously served on the planning commission for Georgia’s Dekalb County.
He said that experience gives him a different perspective.
“I’m trying to bring that knowledge and experience to you all,” he said.
Broussard said he also assisted with Plan Baton Rouge, the plan to redevelop Baton Rouge’s downtown.
He said that downtown’s turnaround since should be a point of pride for Baton Rouge.
“That’s something that the city and the people of Baton Rouge and no doubt this planning commission can take a lot of pride in,” he said.
Second up Saturday was Charles Graves III, director of the Department of City Planning and Buildings for Cincinnati.
Graves said he has been interested in planning since he was 15 and has an “urge to help cities, help neighborhoods, help people.”
Graves detailed his vast background, which included working on a $2 million comprehensive plan for Washington DC.
“We did it on time, and we did it on budget,” he said. “It’s in place now.”
Graves said he read FutureBR – Baton Rouge’s master plan – and was impressed. Now, he wants the opportunity to be a part of its ongoing implementation – a key duty of the new planning director.
“I think you all have a great plan, a great vision,” he said. “The greatest challenge is to take it day-by-day and not take your eyes off the prize.”
The final interviewee was Frank Duke, former city planner for Norfolk, Va.
Duke, who has also served in planning roles in Palm Beach County, Fla., and Durham, N.C.
Detailed several accomplishments in other cities, particularly with transportation.
“A lot of our city plans have been built around the car,” he said. “We forget that cities are really about people.”
Duke, who once served as an intern for former city-parish planning director Troy Bunch, said he thinks that building relationships in the community is an important component of the director’s job.
“How does the planning department relate to the community and how do you build that? I think that’s a critical responsibility of the planning director.”
UP NEXT: The Planning Commission will meet at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the search.