Aug 092019
 

Incumbent Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (at left) has drawn three challengers for the Uptown-based District 5 seat: “Fox Rich” Richardson (left), Allen Borne Jr. and Ronald Brown Jr. (not pictured). (via candidate Facebook pages)

In the final hours of qualifying on Thursday, the already-crowded field of contenders for about a dozen seats representing New Orleans in the state legislature swelled again to nearly 40 candidates — including the entry of three challengers to Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and a fifth candidate for House District 91.

District 91 candidates Pepper Bowen Roussel, Carling Dinkler, Mandie Landry and Robert McKnight. Not pictured: John Perry III. (via candidate websites)

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Aug 082019
 

Term-limits on a number of state legislators elected after Hurricane Katrina brought an initial flurry of candidates to newly-vacant seats in the first two days of qualifying this week, but no new contenders joined the crowded field on Thursday morning as only a few hours remained before the afternoon’s deadline for the Oct. 12 election. Continue reading »

Aug 082019
 

Former Zulu King Adonis Expose (photo at left) swears to the accuracy of his qualifying documents. Candace Newell (center) signs her qualifying papers with supporters including City Councilman Jay H. Banks and Barbara Lacen-Keller. L. Jameel Shaheer (right), a former New Orleans firefighter poses with his family and Criminal Clerk of Arthur Morrell. (photos by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

State Sen. Wesley Bishop’s surprise announcement last Friday that he would not seek re-election has set the stage for a power struggle between two former Zulu kings — 2017 Zulu King Adonis Expose and 2016 Zulu King Jay Banks, a popular member of the New Orleans City Council and powerbroker of the BOLD political organization. After Bishop’s decision became public, State Rep. Jimmy Harris — whose current house district overlaps portions of Bishop’s Senate District 4 — staked his claim on Bishop’s seat rather than running for re-election in House District 99.

Expose, a businessman and community organizer, quickly stepped up for what could have been an easily, winnable contest against L. Jameel Shaheer, a former firefighter with limited resources who had previously declared his candidacy to “help the community.” Instead, lawyer and long-time government operative Candace Nikeia Newell arrived at qualifying with several member of the BOLD political organization including Councilmember Banks. Clearly the battle lines were drawn. Continue reading »

Aug 072019
 

District 91 candidates Carling Dinkler, Mandie Landry and Robert McKnight. Not pictured: John Perry III. (via candidate websites)

District 98 candidates Evan Bergeron, Aimee Adatto Freeman, Ravi Sangisetty, Kea Sherman and Carlos Zervigon. Not pictured: Max Hayden Chiz and Marion “Penny” Freistadt. (via official websites)

Four more candidates joined the hunt for two open seats representing Uptown New Orleans in the Louisiana state House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total to 11 contenders for the two positions. Continue reading »

Aug 062019
 

District 91 candidates Carling Dinkler, Mandie Landry and Robert McKnight. (via candidate websites)

Several seats in the Louisiana state legislature will be vacant this year because their representatives are term-limited, and a crowd of contenders showed up Tuesday morning for the first day of the official qualifying period for the Oct. 12 election.

District 98 candidates Evan Bergeron, Aimee Adatto Freeman, Ravi Sangisetty and Kea Sherman. (via official websites)

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Aug 012019
 

State Rep. Joe Bouie talks with voter Jason Banks before a presidential debate watch party Wednesday evening. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

It’s time to put up or shut up.

Louisiana’s election season begins in earnest next Tuesday with qualifying for statewide offices and the 144 members of the Louisiana House and Senate. Dozens of prospective candidates will be trekking to their parish Clerk of Court or to the Louisiana Secretary of State before the Thursday 4:30 p.m. deadline. They will bring the appropriate cash, cashier’s check or money order (no credit cards or personal checks accepted) and swear that they really reside where they are registered and that all their taxes are paid in full. Those who perjure themselves – and these days there is usually someone – are quickly challenged in court. Continue reading »

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Jul 082019
 

Gov. John Bel Edwards greets supporters Monday morning at a campaign rally on Thalia Street in the Lower Garden District. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards kicked off his re-election campaign Monday morning with a rally in the Lower Garden District, drawing a crowd of New Orleans supporters with his message of progress on health care and the economy and promises of more funding for public education.

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May 052019
 

An underwhelming number of voters Saturday overwhelmingly decided to allow the city to reallocate the property tax money going to parks and recreation.

The parks and rec measure passed with the support of 76% of the voters who showed up for a single-issue election; by the time polls closed, 18,308 city residents had pressed the “yes” button. In its initial, unofficial estimate, the Secretary of State’s Office puts the turnout at 9.4% of registered New Orleans voters. Continue reading »

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Mar 282019
 

Lt Gov. Billy Nungesser chats with former LSU linebacker Devin White, a top 2019 draft pick, at last Saturday’s Louisiana Derby. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

While most state officials are spending this week preparing for the upcoming legislative session, yesterday Louisiana’s 54th Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser participated in a White House roundtable in Washington, D.C., on the nation’s economy and trade led by National Economic Council Director and Deputy Assistant to the President Larry Kudlow.

He attended a dinner at the Embassy of Canada where he discussed cultural similarities and additional air-travel opportunities. Today he is moderating a panel on changes to veterans’ health care and will be meeting privately with the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany for more tourism talks. Continue reading »

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Mar 212019
 

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

There are many excellent health care providers in the New Orleans area. One stands out for its almost 200-year commitment and unique wrap-around services – the Daughters of Charity. First at the now-shuttered Charity Hospital and today through 10 neighborhood health centers including one located at 3201 S. Carrollton, the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, or DCSNO, strive to eradicate health care disparities by providing affordable, high-quality care to children, adolescents, adults and seniors.

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Mar 142019
 

Council on Aging Director Howard Rodgers with seniors William Larce and Barbara Bloodworth at the Carrollton Hollygrove Multi-purpose Center. (Danae Columbus, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

On Saturday, March 30, New Orleanians will vote on a 2-mill property tax that would fund services for seniors. If approved, the new millage is expected to generate $6.6 million annually. The “average” New Orleans homeowner would pay less than $100 per year.

I am one of almost 80,000 people aged 55 and over who live in Orleans Parish. Together we represent almost 25 percent of the city’s population. Experts agree that older adults are the most under-served population in our community. Though I have never participated in any of the programs offered seniors by the New Orleans Council on Aging or even through my church, I know how vital they are to the health and welfare of those served. Continue reading »

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Feb 282019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

A substantive prisoner re-entry program that includes rehabilitation and job training is “really critical” to reducing recidivism, said Pelican Institute for Public Policy CEO Daniel Erspamer at an YLC Leadership Luncheon last week. Pelican, a nonprofit libertarian-leaning think tank that develops data-driven policy solutions, works to bring jobs and opportunities back to Louisiana by eliminating barriers to success. It also coordinates Louisiana’s Smart on Crime business-led coalition that successfully lobbied for criminal justice reform. Since 2017, the coalition has been monitoring the implementation of the new laws and planning future steps. Continue reading »

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Feb 212019
 

Mayor LaToya Cantrell participates in a panel discussion on gentrification at Tulane Hillel in 2015, while Flozell Daniels of the Foundation for Louisiana listens. ( UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Mayor LaToya Cantrell was smart to ask Governor John Bel Edwards to form a working group to identify funding solutions for New Orleans sewerage and drainage problems. Edwards is up for re-election in the fall and will need the support of the popular Cantrell and New Orleans voters. Unfortunately, there is only so much the governor will be able to do without identifying a new taxing source. So far the tourism industry has successfully fought back against Cantrell co-opting any of their existing tax dollars but has pledged to work with her on creating a small new tax. Continue reading »

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Feb 142019
 

Diana Bajoie (third from left) was recently honored for her many contributions. Attendees included Mayor LaToya Cantrell and former elected officials Irma Muse Dixon, Cynthia Willard Lewis, Renee Gill Pratt and Cynthia Hedge Morrell. (submitted photo by Elijah Brown)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Diana Bajoie smiled broadly when the Downtown Development District’s Kurt Weigle touted $500 million dollars of construction permits issued in 2018. First as the area’s State Representative and later as State Senator, Bajoie delivered billions in capital outlay funds for the Morial Convention Center, LSU Health Sciences Center, the Port of New Orleans and many other organizations which laid the foundation for the New Orleans economy that citizens enjoy today. Working closely with numerous governors and legislative leaders, it was Bajoie’s task to gather support across party and geographic lines. Continue reading »

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