Article and photos by Robert Morris and Erin Krall
Seth Bloom and Jay H. Banks placed first and second, respectively, out of the field of six candidates for the open District B seat on the New Orleans City Council, sending them to a runoff next month, according to the results of voting in Saturday’s election.
As the first precincts were reported, Bloom took an early lead and maintained it the entire night, ending with 40 percent of the more than 14,000 ballots cast. Likewise, Banks maintained his second-place position as each precinct was counted, ending with 27 percent.
Timothy David Ray came in third place with 17 percent, and Catherine Love finished fourth with 10 percent, according to results from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website. Eugene Ben-Oluwole and “Action” Andre Strumer followed, with 3 and 2 percent respectively.
Turnout in District B was 26.4 percent, far below the nearly 32 percent of the city who voted in the mayor’s race, and in fact the lowest of any of the five council districts.
Around 120 of Bloom’s supporters celebrated at the Civic Theatre in the CBD. Reggae and R&B filled the modern space as excited young staffers mixed with a crowd of all ages, mingling in English and Spanish.
Bloom, admittedly tired and sunburned after a long day, mingled in the crowd before inviting his family onstage and speaking for about 10 minutes.
“It’s a lot to process,” Bloom said. “This was a really, really long day. I had no idea where we were going to go, but this is about where we thought we were. Really, we won just about in every significant metric. We won early voting, which in my demographic is almost unheard of. It was almost mathematically impossible for us to win. We were all hoping for the Hail Mary.
“We had an amazing team out there. Our field team was second to none. I was told by some real New Orleans insider politicos that no one has run a field game like we have since Marc Morial in the 1990s. So that’s certainly something to be super, super proud of.
“The work really begins now. We anticipated this. We planned for this. We have an extensive plan to cover between now and November 18, and we want to work as hard as we can to accomplish our goal and that’s to win. We don’t think we’re going to have any problem winning. We’re extremely happy about tonight.
“I just want to applaud all the other participants in this political process. I want to give a shoutout to Timothy Ray, Catherine Love, Action Andre, Eugene Ben. A lot of them brought a lot of really good ideas. I’m going to look to them for some resources in the next few weeks to help complete our campaign.”
At the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, Banks’s supporters sat at circular tables and enjoyed food and drinks, watching two large screens with WWL-TV intently for every update until Banks himself walked in once the race had been called as a runoff.
Saturday’s result, Banks said, was “just a halfway mark.”
“Understand, we didn’t have anywhere near the money that they did,” Banks told supporters. “This election is way more about the people of this city and this district than who can write the biggest check. I am elated, overwhelmed and totally excited about the outcome tonight, because many people had said we could not match those resources and he would win in the primary, but that turned out not to be the case. The fact we are still standing and that the numbers are what they are indicates that we’re going to do this dance again, and we’re going to lead the next time.”
Banks credited his family for their support, his campaign team for helping him deliver the message of his candidacy, and his supporters for lifting him into the runoff. He said he is always aware of the shoes he is seeking to fill, since he was baptized by the Rev. A.L. Davis — the first black councilman from the district — mentored by Oretha Castle Haley and worked in the City Council for Jim Singleton and Dorothy Mae Taylor.
“The faith and the confidence you have vested in me will not be wasted,” Banks said. “The faith and confidence you have shown in me is going to be rewarded by the fact that I will be the best City Councilman there has ever been. I am going to work every day to make you proud of your City Council.”
In District A, Joe Giarrusso III won the seat without a runoff, according to MidCityMessenger.
This article was reported and photographed by Erin Krall at Seth Bloom’s victory party at the Civic Theater, and Robert Morris at the Jay H. Banks party at Ashe Cultural Arts Center.