Jan 252018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

While many New Orleanians are singularly focused on Mardi Gras, candidates running for State Legislature, Civil District Court and Appeals Court are spending their evenings talking to neighborhood, civic and political organizations including BOLD and the Alliance for Good Government – both of whom met last night. The three quick Alliance forums were probably the first real opportunity for the city’s political players to see the candidates side by side.

In the Civil District Court Division A forum, Richard Perque – well-known on the social scene – showed his serious side by articulating many well-thought-out answers. It also doesn’t hurt that Perque can discuss judicial philosophy with his mom who happens to be a federal judge. Clerk of First City Court Ellen Hazeur is no lightweight and delivered plenty of good responses. Both candidates really want a victory. African-American women have won almost all of the CDC races in recent years, so it remains to be seen if Perque can buck that trend.

In the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal forum, Clerk of Court Dale Atkins exuded confidence and flashed a big smile. She was extremely well versed on the unique role and responsibilities of an appeals court judge and connected her professional background to the job. Atkins is hot on the campaign trail and in social media.

Criminal Court Judge Robin Pittman is a passionate jurist who runs a no-nonsense court. She cares deeply about her family, justice and the community. Her answers at the forum were serious, precise and to the point, but she often agreed with Atkins rather than presenting new ideas. Pittman might want to open up a bit if she wants more voters to support her.

In the State Rep District 93 forum, Royce Duplessis was clearly the most polished. Some politicos consider him too low key. Duplessis touts his middle class servant-leader upbringing as a badge of honor and leans heavily on his years working at the Louisiana Supreme Court and on the City Planning Commission. While Duplessis lives in the Central City corner of the district, he will leverage his significant credentials into the other neighborhoods in an effort to win outright in the primary.

Danil Faust is a very sincere but somewhat naive grassroots kind of guy who was smitten with New Orleans on his first visit. Faust understands the plight of the average New Orleans worker and can sniff out big businesses who are taking full advantage of tax opportunities. Faust has the common touch and is enjoying every minute of the race including marching last Saturday for women’s empowerment.

A Jesuit graduate, lawyer, former actor and film industry professional, Ken Bordes thinks like a younger Bernie Sanders. He’s smart, good on message, but must refine his presentation style. Bordes, who resides in the 7th Ward on the opposite end of the district from Duplessis, could become a real contender if he figures out how to connect with voters.

These races will be fast and furious with most voters not paying attention until early March. The primary election is Saturday, March 24, 2018.

JUDGE D. NICOLE SHEPPARD BEING SWORN IN TONIGHT

Members of the bench, family, friends and other elected officials will celebrate Judge D. Nicole Sheppard’s investiture tonight (Thursday, Jan. 25) at the Algiers Auditorium at Federal City, 2485 Guadalcanal Street. The event begins at 5 p.m. Attendees are urged to head toward the Mississippi River Bridge by 4:30 p.m.

ADD NEW ORLEANS GOP TO GROUPS OPPOSING CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION

The Orleans Parish Republican Executive Committee and the Greater New Orleans Republicans are among the groups who voiced their opposition to the Council’s ill-advised Human Rights resolution which is being reversed today. “The Council should be focused on issues closer to home as the nation turns its attention to New Orleans for its 300th anniversary celebrations. Crime, crumbling infrastructure, and a dysfunctional Sewerage and Water Board is not a good look for us,” said former Councilmember and OPREC chair Jay Batt.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Her current clients include District B City Council candidate Seth Bloom and At-Large City Council candidate Helena Moreno.

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