In a passionate speech that made frequent references to his seven-week old daughter Kate, State Rep Walt Leger laid out his vision for New Orleans and Louisiana’s future to a packed, appreciative audience of business, tourism and political leaders at his fundraiser Monday night. With a rousing introduction by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Leger delivered what could easily be considered an opening salvo in the 2017 mayor’s race.
Surrounded by his mother Kathy, father Walt Jr., wife Danielle and close friends, Leger said Kate’s birth changed his life dramatically and has given him a new perspective on what kind of city and state his child should grow up in. “We have everything we need to make it work,” said Leger, “the mightiest river, the greatest railroad, and the most pipelines. Anything is possible. Everything is possible,” he continued.
The audience was filled with many of the city’s top opinion makers including Boysie Bollinger, Mike Kearney, Gary Solomon Jr., Nancy Marsiglia, Donna and Russell Klein, Mark Romig, Steve Perry, John and Bonnie Boyd and Leo Marsh. They were joined by Councilman Jared Brossett who was celebrating his birthday, State Reps. Helena Moreno and Stephanie Hilferty, State Senators J.P. Morrell and Gary Smith and Judge Madeline Landrieu.
Still others who attended included Madelyn Schenk, Christian Rhodes, Dana Henry and Nyka Scott, Suzy Montero, James Moffett, Bob Ellis, Nick Mueller, Mike Palamone, Tina Owen, Nathalie Simon, Jeb Bruneau, Brian Trascher, Rosalind Cook, Ryan Berni, Mario Zervigon, Todd Ragusa, David Morris and Felicia Kahn. We must also mention Mitch’s long-time fundraiser Ruth Kullman who was quietly sizing up Leger’s existing donor base.
Though Leger will undoubtedly give a formal announcement speech in the coming months, all in attendance knew he was setting a high bar for the other mayoral contenders. Next up will be Councilmember LaToya Cantrell who will have the opportunity to lay out her vision next Friday at Darleen Jacob’s French Quarter home.
DESIREE CHARBONNET TO SEEK APPEALS COURT SEAT
Desiree Charbonnet, chief judge in Municipal Court, says she will seek Paul Bonin’s seat on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal if Bonin is elected to Criminal District Court bench next month. The election to replace Bonin would be held in spring, 2017.
A 1994 graduate of Loyola Law School, Charbonnet was first elected Recorder of Mortgages, a position she recommended be combined with Recorder of Conveyances. Charbonnet has served on the Municipal Court bench for more than eight years and was re-elected in 2016 without opposition.
Charbonnet is known as an efficient, compassionate jurist willing to break the cycle of endless incarceration for repeat non-violent offenders by creating model diversionary programs.
NEW ORLEANS INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN CUBA’S 2018 FIESTA EL FUEGO
New Orleans and Louisiana cultural organizations have been invited to participate in the Fiesta El Fuego, also known as the Caribbean Festival, a 38-year-old international event held every July in Santiago de Cuba. The festival’s parent organization, La Casa del Caribe, has appointed New Orleans businessman Pat Bryant to coordinate the cultural exchange.
Fiesta El Fuego is a week-long celebration of the popular cultures and traditions of Cuba and other Caribbean nations, is held at multiple indoor and outdoor venues. The festival draws more than 100,000 attendees from all across Cuba and the Caribbean. Casa del Caribe director Orlando Verges Martinez said they were especially interested in forming close ties with New Orleans due to “clear Caribbean descent.”
“New Orleans is a natural partner for Fiesta El Fuego and its week-long celebration of music, dance, color and life” said Bryant. “We plan to send a delegation to Cuba this July to better understand how we might participate next year. As tourism and trade between Cuba and Louisiana develops, we hope Santiago de Cuba and New Orleans share a bright future together.”
JAY BANKS STILL KING OF ZULU
Not only is prospective Council District B candidate Jay Banks still the reigning Zulu King, his correct work title is Director of the Dryades YMCA School of Commerce. Banks says he is humbled by all the voters who have encouraged his candidacy.
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.