Jan 262017

The Women’s March gathers at Duncan Plaza on Saturday, Jan. 21. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

“The New Orleans Women’s March was amazing,” State Senator Karen Carter Peterson told the mostly female crowd at her fundraiser Monday night. “I had no idea what to expect.” Flanked by Governor John Bel Edwards and Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Carter Peterson said the march showed that women share “a belief in our democracy” and that “our voices are heard.”

Since last weekend’s march in Washington and “sister” marches around the country and the world, there has been much talk about how to build on the momentum going forward and if women from various economic and ethnic backgrounds can work together on common issues.

Carter Peterson’s fundraiser drew an ethnically diverse, mostly female crowd from Councilmembers Latoya Cantrell, Susan Guidry and Jared Brossett to State Senator Wesley Bishop and State Reps Helena Moreno and Walt Leger. There were several judges present as well as judicial candidates Suzy Montero and Rachel Johnson. Also on hand was newly elected NAACP president Gloria Hall-Johnson talking about her February 4th inauguration and former U.S. Senate candidate Josh Pellerin who said he is considering a race for Congress.

Current chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, Carter Peterson announced that she was running for Civic Engagement Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee in their February elections. “I love public service and I like helping people,” Carter Peterson explained. Carter Peterson also said she likes the $25 donations many women in the room often contribute. “Help me get through the next two months,” she implored.

State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and Gov. John Bel Edwards at last week’s fundraiser. (Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Carter Peterson is also one of several New Orleans women being talked about as candidates for races this fall. She obviously would need a whole lot of $25 donations to be a viable candidate for let’s say mayor, as would Latoya Cantrell who is already out on the trail.

Buoyed with a billboard on the I-10, Cantrell believes her mayoral campaign is catching fire and that she would be strongly supported by African-American females – the city’s largest voting block. Mayor Landrieu and many of the Business Council types are probably poised to throw their financial support behind State Rep Walt Leger.

Leger said Monday evening that he was not going to run for State Treasurer but had “another” race in mind. Like State Sen. J.P. Morrell, also a prospective candidate, Leger is focused on the upcoming special legislative session.

The session is not stopping former Judge Michael Bagneris from planning his second mayoral campaign. State Senator Troy Carter also says he is “reconsidering” the race. Other candidates who could round out that field include U.S. Attorney Ken Polite who may be out of a job soon and reality tv star and businessman Sidney Torres.

State Rep Helena Moreno has built up incredible support among women voters of all stripes. If Moreno enters the Council-At-Large race as expected, she will be hard to beat. Also considering that race is term-limited Councilmember Susan Guidry who says she wants to continue to work in the area of criminal justice reform, but not as a judge –which is another option available to her.

Councilmember At Large Jason Williams is now expected to run for re-election. He should not receive significant opposition and could decide to run for District Attorney in a few years. Councilmember Jared Brossett, who introduced the Equal Pay Advisory Committee legislation at today’s council meeting, has been toying with entering the At-Large race but probably will run for re-election as well. If Brossett does qualify for At-Large, State Rep Joe Bouie says he is ready to jump into the Council District D council race. Brossett only beat Bouie by one percentage point.


When new Appeals Court Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods was sworn at her alma mater SUNO this week, the room was filled with judges including her fellow jurists from the Court of Appeal but also judges currently serving in Civil District Court, Criminal Court, Traffic Court and Second City Court as well as three clerks of court, and numerous other elected officials. Appeals Court Judge Edwin Lombard, dean of the city’s African-American elected officials, reminded attendees how different it was when he first ran for office. Bartholomew-Woods also acknowledged she was grateful for her success and that she was standing on the shoulders of her slave ancestors.


Though New Orleans prison reform advocates frequently complain that too many citizens serve time in jail, what do average New Orleanians really want from their District Attorney? They want a DA that will keep them safe in their homes, their cars, their neighborhoods, and at their workplaces. Lock up criminals -don’t let criminals run loose, citizens frequently say.

When the Mayor, City Council and District Attorney do battle and the Mayor prioritizes safety cameras over operational funding for the DA’s office, the public is not well served. School safety is important, but not as important as keeping criminals with guns off the streets.


Several weeks after being soundly defeated by Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods, Criminal Court Judge Laurie White quietly switched her voter affiliation to Republican. White’s husband, Texas-based oil and gas entrepreneur Tom Wilson, is a long-time Republican and major donor to the Republican Party.

White is known to express her displeasure over her poor campaign showing in the African-American community after receiving many assurances from prison reform advocates that they would deliver African-American votes to her. White has been an ardent supporter of criminal justice reform.

It would be highly unusual for a Republican to win a city-wide election in Orleans Parish. Perhaps White does not plan to seek re-election when her current term ends in December, 2020.

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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