Jun 282018
 

Jared Brossett (at left) is considering a challenge to the new clerk of court, Chelsey Richard Napoleon (at right). (submitted photos)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With qualifying still three weeks away, the contest to replace longtime Civil District Court Clerk Dale Atkins has already heated up with two strong candidates – Interim Civil District Court Clerk Chelsey Richard Napoleon and District D Councilmember Jared Brossett.

Napoleon, who rolled out her campaign Tuesday night in Lakeview, has been preparing to become Clerk of Court for more than a decade. She was first employed at the Clerk’s office in 1995 and has worked there more than 16 years including 11 years as Chief Deputy. A graduate of Ben Franklin High School, Napoleon attended the University of New Orleans on a TOPS scholarship and received an undergraduate and graduate degree in political science. She also attended Loyola University School of Law at night while working and raising her young child.

As Chief Deputy, Napoleon supervised the office’s 175 employees and kept operations flowing smoothly. She coordinated the merger of the Clerk’s office with the Recorder of Mortgages, Register of Conveyances and Custodian of Notarial Archives offices and was also instrumental in getting the Clerk’s office up and running after Hurricane Katrina. Napoleon has been raising money with the help of her well-known uncle businessman Alvin Richard of Richards Disposal and has a fundraiser scheduled this evening at the uptown home of former Attorney General candidate Geri Baloney.

Brossett is said to be running because he would like to better utilize his talents and experience. Relatively young but well-seasoned, Brossett was a City Council staffer and member of the Louisiana Legislature before running for the City Council. He currently serves as Chair of the Council’s Budget Committee. Supporters believe that Brossett has prepared himself well to work with the Clerk’s larger budget and greater number of employees. Brossett attended McDonogh #35 High School and earned a B.A. degree in political science from Xavier University.

Brossett has assembled an impressive host committee for his July 10 campaign kick-off fundraiser at Basin Street Station. Among his committed supporters are almost 30 current and former elected officials from throughout the region including Walt Leger, Joe Giarrusso, and J.P. Morrell as well as more than 60 community leaders.

A position like the Clerk of Civil District Court does not come open very often. These two candidates will wage a fight-to-the-death competition that will pit a seasoned politician against a hard-working woman who has spent her entire career working as the number two employee in the very office she now wants to lead.

WITH CROWLEY’S DEFEAT, RICHMOND MOVES UP THE PECKING ORDER

The stunning defeat Tuesday of New York Congressman Joe Crowley, Congress’ fifth ranking Democrat, was a shock to party regulars but has a silver lining for Cedric Richmond. Already the popular chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Richmond was already expected to rise up in the Democrats power structure after the midterm elections. Now he could rise even farther. Businessmen Bill Goldring and attorney Tim Francis will host a fundraiser for Richmond tonight at Goldring’s Metairie Road offices. Other hosts include former Senators John Breaux and Mary Landrieu and Councilmembers Joe Giarrusso and Helena Moreno.

NEW GUBERNATORIAL POLL ONLY SNAPSHOT IN TIME

Governor John Bel Edwards is probably not worried about Survey USA’s new poll that places him squarely behind U.S. Senator John Kennedy – if the governor’s election was “today.” Edwards has just come off a very tough series of legislative sessions and the Medicaid audit announced this week didn’t help either. But the election is not “today.” It is not certain that Kennedy will enter the race. If he does, even Louisiana voters could tire of Kennedy’s corny jokes and folksy sayings once the two candidates begin appearing head to head on the campaign trail.

ST BERNARD PARISH SCHOOLS PROVIDE EXCELLENT PERFORMING ARTS EDUCATION

As a former high school theatre teacher, this author was impressed by Chalmette High School Performing Arts Academy’s current production of the musical “Into The Woods” not just because the sets, costumes, acting, singing and musical accompaniment were outstanding but because school leaders figured out how to use the performing arts to enhance skills, build confidence, and create a sense of community.

Hurricane Katrina devastated much of St. Bernard’s school system but long-time Superintendent Doris Voitier rebuilt with a vengeance and instituted an open-to-every student performing arts education program in all schools. Evidence of that program’s success can be clearly seen in this summer production, which is supported – as is every play year-round – by the Meraux Foundation. Grants also funded the purchase of a first-class sound and light system which makes the experience even more pleasant. Chalmette High’s valedictorian and salutatorian are both in the production as are dozens of other students, some as young as ten years of age. Many of the actors are college bound in part because teachers, students and administrators are all one big family.

To reach the CHS theatre on East Judge Perez Drive, this author passed their state-of-the-art natatorium and field house – significant post Katrina additions to the campus whose student population is 1,300. St. Bernard’s schools might well be the parish’s crown jewel. Houses are still affordable and special financial assistance is available to some homebuyers. “Into The Woods” is worth seeing for theatre lovers willing to drive those few extra miles. Tickets ($15) are available through EventBrite.com or by calling 272-0302.

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, City Councilwoman-elect Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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