State Rep. Helena Moreno announced a bid for the open at-large seat on the City Council in an event that framed her as a crusader for truth as a journalist and justice as a state lawmaker, but also gave the first glimpse into the issues that may dominate the race for control of city government this year.
Moreno, a former WDSU investigative reporter, was elected in 2010 to the District 93 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives, which stretches from the Garden District and Central City through the Central Business District into the Seventh Ward. On Thursday, Moreno was flanked by her colleagues from both the news station and the state legilslature as she announced she will run for the “Division 1” at-large seat currently held by Stacy Head, who is term-limited.
“I’ve really enjoyed working on state policy. I have,” Moreno says. “But I’ve been listening to you, and I’ve heard you, and there’s more to do right here at home.”
After an introduction by former WDSU anchor Camille Whitworth, State Sen. J.P. Morrell praised Moreno’s record in the legislature as a champion for issues of rights and justice. He noted her work on equal pay for women, for better reporting of sexual assault on college campuses, and domestic-violence protections for women and children, as well as school readiness and early childhood education.
“She has so much to offer the city of New Orleans,” Morrell said. “She is in a unique position. She is a role model for every young women in our city right now, showing that giving a voice to the voiceless, speaking up on unpopular issues. Even in the legislature, as you’ve seen in this last session, when people are doing wrong, she is never silent.”
The only issue Moreno addressed at length in her short address was crime [Note: see her remarks on crime in the video above], which she said affects everyone in the city — from those who simply feel unsafe in their neighborhoods to the 36 children victims among the city’s 485 shootings last year. The state already has strong laws punishing violent crime, but those do not serve as a deterrent, she says.
“More police officers alone can’t be the sole solution to end the cycle of violence that has persisted in this city for so many years,” Moreno said. “…All of us together need to work to provide more opportunities for the people in New Orleans — opportunities for good paying jobs, opportunities for a good education, and opportunities for good housing.”
Moreno’s announcement gives the first major indication of the contenders for both the at-large seats and the mayor’s office. The other at-large seat is held by Jason Williams, who has been speculated as a mayoral candidate but could run for another term in his seat.
- District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry had given thought to an at-large bid, but said last week that she will retire from politics after her term ends next year instead.
- District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for an at-large seat, but most speculation around her centers on the possibility of a mayoral run instead.
- District D City Councilman Jared Brossett has also said he would give thought to a run for one of the at-large seats, but did not respond to a request for comment from Uptown Messenger on Thursday.
- Morrell and another colleague in Baton Rouge, state Rep. Walt Leger, are both frequently mentioned as a potential candidates for city office, most likely mayor. Speculation around state Rep. Karen Carter Peterson has abated somewhat since she took on more responsibility with the Democratic National Committee.
- Former judge Michael Bagneris, Mitch Landrieu’s challenger in 2014, is running for mayor again, and businessman Sidney Torres’ recent media blitz has also increased speculation around his plans.
Qualifying for the mayor and City Council races is in July.