Jul 112017

From left, Joe Giarrusso, Aylin Maklansky and Drew Ward have all begun their campaigns for the open District A seat on the New Orleans City Council. (campaign photos)

The competition for the open New Orleans City Council seat serving the Audubon, university, Bayou St. John and Lakeview areas is becoming more visible as the official filing period for this year’s city elections is about to begin.

While lawyer and former Lakeview neighborhood leader Joe Giarrusso Jr. has led the highest-profile campaign thus far for the seat that Susan Guidry is leaving, two other candidates have begun to make public showings. Attorney and former City Hall staffer Aylin Maklansky’s signs have begun appearing in Uptown yards as she builds her campaign team, and neighborhood activist Drew Ward announced his own candidacy at a recent event held by mayoral candidate LaToya Cantrell.

Meanwhile, attorney Mark Vicknair, former president of the Alliance for Good Government, said that after long consideration he has decided against running for the seat.

“I thought about it for a long time, and wanted to run, but right now is not a good time, and the law practice is doing well,” Vicknair said to Uptown Messenger early Tuesday. “Hopefully I can work with the new council members, and the new Mayor to help the city in some form.”

Maklanksy served as the legislative director for District C City Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey from 2014 until last month, handling land-use requests and other issues, with a special focus on environmental legislation. A Benjamin Franklin graduate, she was previously a law clerk during Ramsey’s judgeship, and served in the office of former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu as well as in the Environmental Law Clinic while studying law at Tulane.

On her website, Maklanksy touts herself as a “solution-driven consensus builder” who has been “fighting for the people of New Orleans and Louisiana” for nearly two decades. Her “issues” page includes updates on environmental issues, blight, historic districts and the city’s master plan.

Ward is making his second run for the District A seat, though he is switching parties to run as a Democrat after his unsuccessful challenge to Guidry as a Republican candidate in 2014. Since then, Ward has been a vocal advocate on Carrollton neighborhood issues such as the preservation of the Carrollton Courthouse and the use of the Fly at Audubon Park.

Ward promotes his “Together Tomorrow” campaign on his Facebook page, where he regularly comments on political issues at ever level, from the pay gap for women in Donald Trump’s White House to the state budget or New Orleans crime. He also gave an impromptu speech in praise of Cantrell at the first event she held on her listening tour in Broadmoor last month.

“Every single issue we’ve talked about tonight is in every neighborhood, every part of the city. So she’s been a citywide candidate and she’s been doing the citywide job all along,” Ward said. “As for me, somebody running for office, I can only hope to do the kind of work she’s done. At the same time, we do need a complete rewrite of our fiscal environment. We need a complete rewrite of our structure of government, and we need a complete rewrite of how we govern.”

Filing for the District A seat and all other races in the fall’s citywide elections begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday and continues through Friday. The election is October 14, with a runoff the following month if necessary.

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