Danae Columbus: Qualifying is next week for First City Court, state and parish committees

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Attorney Robbins Graham, right, with Matthew Willard, who will take the District 97 seat on the state House of Representatives on Jan. 13.  (via Facebook)

Though it might seem like our political season just ended, Louisiana’s campaigns are cranking up again next week with qualifying Jan. 8-10 for a vacant judgeship at First City Court and for dozens of seats on the Orleans Parish Democratic and Republican Parish Executive Committees and State Central Committees.

The First City Court vacancy is due to the recent untimely passing of Senior Judge Angelique Reed, 59, the first African-American to be elected to that court. Reed served with distinction for 21 years.

Attorney Robbins Graham, 61, a graduate of Southern University Law Center, told Uptown Messenger he was “seriously interested in qualifying.”  The Louisiana State Bar Association lists Graham as an attorney for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. A practicing attorney for more than 30 years, Graham attends the Beacon Light Baptist Church in Gentilly.

Other names that have been bantered around are Clint Smith, who previously ran for Traffic Court, and Jennifer Medley, daughter of former Civil District Court Judge Lloyd Medley.  Both have been contemplating a fall 2020 judicial run but could push up their plans.

Former Judge and City Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey is currently serving ad hoc and does not plan to seek the position at this time. There is also speculation that former Judge Desiree Charbonnet may be contemplating another run for office due to her recent billboard campaign. The qualifying fee for the position is $750.

The judgeship race will be held during an “off” election, when turnout is traditionally low.

Qualifying will also take place for 140 positions – 14 from each of the city’s five council districts – for the two parish executive committees.  With a nominal qualifying fee of $112.50, these races are a great opportunity especially for young people to become more involved in politics at the grassroots level.

Many people have successfully used the parish committees as a spring board to run for office. Elected officials often remain active with these groups to feel the pulse of the community.  Campaigns for these positions have become quite spirited with established political organizations creating ballots, targeted social media and setting up phone banks.

Elections will also be held for seats on the two more exclusive state central committees. The Democratic State Central Committee is comprised of one female and one male from each state Senate district in Orleans Parish.  The Republican State Central Committee has the same number of available seats but previously was allowed by law to select more males than females at the state level. Republican leaders will have to mount a court challenge to continue that practice.

Since the parish committees serve as a great training and networking opportunity, the lack of gender equity at the state level has probably also diminished the number of Republican women running for parish-level offices in Louisiana. Republican women should have an equal opportunity to serve on their party’s state governing body. It’s demeaning that Republican women would be considered less worthy.


When a friend’s elderly mother-in-law asked what my favorite color was, little did I know she was gifting me a baby-blue stun gun. Though murders continue to decrease in Orleans Parish, crime – especially car burglaries – is still out of control. My stun gun might well become my new evening companion. No citizen should carry a weapon without the proper permit and training.

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

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 Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman-at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She can be reached at swampednola@gmail.com.

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