A week after grabbing attention with the largest remaining fundraising war chest, Dana Kaplan bolstered her campaign for the open District B seat on the New Orleans City Council by announcing endorsements Wednesday from Mayor Mitch Landrieu, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond and five other prominent elected officials.
“I’m very excited by this broad base of support,” Kaplan said after the news conference. “I didn’t run for office knowing I would get it.”
Though not frequently in the public eye until launching her bid for the City Council, Kaplan was praised for her work helping craft criminal-justice policy at both the state and city level by her new group of high-profile supporters. Richmond recalled her testimony before the state legislature.
“She has a reputation for telling you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear,” Richmond said.
Landrieu described Kaplan as both “tough” and “smart,” two key attributes in a public official, and said her service continues the theme of a New Orleans united for progress beyond surface issues of race or geography. Her experience and expertise give her a strong insight into making progress in New Orleans a reality, Landrieu said.
“A lot of people have a lot of advice on the ‘what,’ but they’re really kind of flat on the ‘how,'” Landrieu said.
Among the other citywide officials, Assessor Errol Williams praised Kaplan for bringing different groups of people together. Sheriff Marlin Gusman may have illustrated that point, saying that he already knew he wouldn’t always agree with Kaplan, but that he could trust her to study every issue thoroughly.
“We really have the same goal,” Gusman said. “We want to have a fair, just, well-run criminal justice system.”
State Rep. Helena Moreno, whose legislative district covers much of the downtown side of District B, said that Kaplan’s extensive knowledge of national best practices for criminal justice will be a “valuable asset” on the City Council. State Rep. Walt Leger touted her work in juvenile justice, representing constituents who don’t have a strong voice for themselves, saying it shows “where her heart is.” And State Rep. Jared Brossett said Kaplan was “outstanding” at making her sure her ideas were heard.
“Dana exemplifies the next generation of progressive leadership in governance,” Brossett said.
Landrieu and Richmond’s endorsements — which echo their joint conference supporting James Gray in District E several weeks ago — cinch up some of the last remaining undeclared high-profile elected officials.
Eric Strachan started early with the support of City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, followed by LaToya Cantrell’s endorsements by two City Councilwomen, Kristen Gisleson Palmer and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and three state lawmakers, Reps. Neil Abramson, J.P. Morrell and Ed Murray.
City Councilwoman Stacy Head, the popular but controversial former District B councilwoman whose endorsement might carry the most influence in the crowded field to succeed her, has said she will remain neutral.