Sep 152016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

As Election Day grows closer, there is lots of political jockeying at the national and local level. Hillary Clinton has decided to be more open about her health, Donald Trump is calling for paid maternity leave and tax credits for working parents, and Sept. 16 birthday boy Governor John Bel Edwards is making progress after two relatively successful trips to Washington to help flood victims.

Local candidates vied for voters’ attention at several forums including Tuesday night’s Dillard University event sponsored by the Louis Martinet Society among others and at last night’s packed house for the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee’s all-important endorsements.

When the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee completed their endorsements last night, two incumbent OPSB members – Nolan Marshall and Woody Koppel – had been passed over in favor of challengers Kwame Smith and David Alvarez. While Koppel had not been endorsed by OPDEC previously, Marshall has strong relationships in the group. OPSB Member Leslie Ellison – also an elected OPDEC member – was endorsed over her opponent. The OPDEC endorsements of the challengers will make those two school board races more competitive, though Marshall, Koppel and Ellison are still expected to win. Clearly OPDEC members are not pleased with how public education in New Orleans is currently operating.

In the Criminal Court race to replace Frank Marullo, even though Dennis Moore made a strong presentation, the endorsement still went to highly capable Appeals Court Judge Paul Bonin. If Moore’s campaign was better funded, this race could be competitive. Moore clearly demonstrated his passion, compassion and knowledge of the law. Hopefully the Criminal Court will consider Moore for the next Ad Hoc judgeship. OPDEC also endorsed Foster Campbell for U.S. Senate and Regina Bartholomew for Appeals Court.

For every 10 U.S. adults of voting age, only six actually voted in the 2012 presidential election, according to the New York Times. About 58 percent of America’s eligible voters turned out in the 2012 presidential election. Voter turnout in the U.S. is lower than in Mexico, Canada, and most European nations.

Highlights of the Times research indicates that richer, older and more educated Americans are more likely to vote. Conversely, African-Americans with little education are 1.7 times more likely to vote than white voters with little education.

Turnout rates vary across the country but are strongest in the upper Midwest and worst in states like Hawaii and West Virginia.

Will the dissatisfaction voters are feeling this year translate to a higher voter turnout? Or will voters stay home because they feel their vote does not count? The race between Trump and Clinton is still very close. Clinton’s ground game for turnout is much stronger than Trump’s who is heavily relying on the Republican Party’s existing infrastructure. Clinton has taken the time and spent the resources to build a strong turnout team across the country, even in New Orleans where volunteers work the phones daily.

LIFE FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS IS IMPROVING; BUT WHAT ABOUT THE POOR?

Middle class wage earners got an emotional boost this week from census data that showed the median household income rose 5.2 percent in 2015. After years of slow growth, inflation-adjusted incomes for the majority of Americans is finally growing at a nice pace.

Unfortunately America’s poverty rate is deeper than in all other prosperous nations. Neither of the two major presidential candidates has announced specific programs or policies to address the problem.

Clinton has been advocating strongly for families, women, children and working Americans, supports raising the minimum wage and increasing affordable housing. Trump promises to create more jobs. Still, an inclusive anti-poverty program has yet to be proposed by their candidates. Any ideas from the candidates will need broad support from Congress and voters in order to become law. Until this happens, the poor will continue to suffer.

Danae Columbus has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by her public relations firm are Foster Campbell, Regina Bartholomew, City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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