It’s election season in New Orleans and we couldn’t be more excited!
Danatus King, a lawyer and nine-year president of the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP, announced his candidacy for Mayor last Sunday to members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. It was a perfect place to start, in the heart of the black community which still hasn’t fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina.
Sure, most of African-Americans here live in new or renovated houses, but more than 100,000 of them never came back due to lack of jobs and affordable rental properties. While the majority of residents and voters in Orleans Parish are still African-Americans, their number decreases every year.
King says he is running because of the “conditions of our city.” He feels that increased economic opportunity for African-Americans is a primary issue. “I agree with former President Bill Clinton when he said ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. In New Orleans, like lots of towns and cities across America, it hasn’t changed,” King explained.
Many African-Americans feel that Landrieu has not done enough to help build a black middle-class. They also say his commitment to Disadvantaged Minority Business is not heartfelt and that job creation programs such as the NOLA for Life initiative only touch the surface of the problem. Activists believe that people who support their families because they have good paying jobs are not out committing crimes, so more job training and jobs are needed.
This is the dialogue that King will create at every forum and community meeting. The Landrieu family has always enjoyed the support of African-American voters. But if blacks follow this King’s call, Landrieu won’t slide into the second term as easily as many people expected.
“People feel intimidated by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and I want to shine a light on that,” King concluded. You might even see King using orange as his campaign color, the traditional anti-bullying color that school children wore last week on Anti-Bullying Day.
Early voting is lowest around Uptown
More than 3,400 registered voters went to the polls last week for early voting in the Traffic Court and Magistrate elections which will take place on Saturday, October 19. Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell, the parish’s chief elections officer, predicts a voter turnout of nine or ten percent, even with the Sewerage and Water Board initiative on the ballot.
The early voters were predominately Democrats, African-Americans, and female. African-Americans made up 76 percent of those who early voted. Sixty-three percent of the voters were female and eighty-four percent were Democrats.
By City Council districts, twenty-seven percent of the early voters reside in District D, twenty-four percent in District E, nineteen percent in District C, fifteen percent in District B, and fourteen percent in District A.
The heat is now on for candidates to turn out their votes. Clint Smith got a big break this week with his endorsements from The Times Picayune and The Tribune. He is definitely in the running to make the runoff. Patrick Giraud is on a roll in his Lakeview base where he received significant votes in the last election. Giraud began a television buy this week on WWL which quickly was successfully challenged by fellow candidate Nanik Rai because the commercial – reedited from last year’s traffic court race - intimated that Giraud already was a judge. Meanwhile, Richard Perque’s campaign team is pulling out all the stops to push him ahead of Giraud.
Leslie Jacobs pushes back against reform critics
Most everyone agrees that Leslie Jacobs has a deep personal commitment to improving education, and she is not thrilled to hear that some people say that education has not improved in New Orleans since Katrina. We agree with Leslie that overall test scores are up and children benefit from the many schools being renovated or newly constructed.
Some parents claim their displeasure is because of busing – it’s outrageous costs and the toll it takes on children. One solution is to build state-of-the-art schools in every neighborhood, schools that are community centers, that serve as a neighborhood base where parents and grandparents gather together to provide a strong foundation for every child and prepare those students for tomorrow’s jobs so they can contribute to New Orleans, not keep us down.
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City Councilwoman Stacy Head, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.