Jay Banks and Lesli Harris will go to runoff for City Council District B race


The race for the City Council District B seat has been tough, and it’s not over yet. Incumbent Jay H. Banks won 45% of the vote in the election on Saturday, while challenger Lesli Harris won 37%, meaning that both Democrats will go to a runoff on Dec. 11. 

Banks is no stranger to nail-biter races; he won his seat in 2017 by just 128 votes in a runoff against former School Board member Seth Bloom. Harris, an entertainment attorney, doesn’t have previous experience in political office, but she has proven to be a formidable candidate and managed to outraise all of her opponents in campaign contributions.   

Democrat Rella Zapletal, an attorney and president of the Touro Bouligny Neighborhood Association, garnered 14% of the vote, winning in two precincts. Independent Rosalind Reed Thibodeaux, who supports more ideological diversity on the council, got 5% of the vote.

Joe Giarrusso rides a landslide into re-election for City Council District A

For Joe Giarrusso III, the question was not whether he would win his re-election bid for City Council District A, but by how much. The answer: by a landslide. 

Giarrusso crushed his competition, Libertarian Amy Misko and fellow Democrat Robert Murrell, and won with 76% of the vote in Saturday’s election, according to unofficial results from the Louisiana Secretary of State. In comparison, he won his first race for City Council in 2017 with 65% of the vote. The incumbent council member not only earned more than three times as many votes as his two opponents combined, he won in every District A precinct. 

His strongest performance was in the University area of Uptown, where he won more than 90% of the vote in four 14th Ward precincts (9, 8, 14 and 6). 

His weakest performance — although he still prevailed — was in a few left-leaning Mid-City spots: 5th Ward precincts 9 and 10, in the lower Bayou St. John area, and 3rd Ward precinct 19, a slice of Mid-City between Canal Street and the Pontchartrain Expressway.

Code Enforcement officials to answer questions during Community Office Hours

The Neighborhood Engagement Office for District B will host the Department of Code Enforcement during Community Office Hours on Wednesday (Nov. 10). Code Enforcement officials will answer questions and address concerns virtually from 2 to 3 p.m.
Community members must have an appointment to speak with a city official. The 15-minute appointments can be scheduled by calling 504-658-4933 or logging on to www.nola.gov/coh. Community Office Hours are held weekly Monday through Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The District B hours are held at Milton H. Latter Memorial Library, 5120 St.

Sanitation Department officials to address questions Wednesday at District B’s Community Office Hours

Representatives from the city’s Sanitation Department will be joining the District B representative from the Neighborhood Engagement Office on Wednesday (Oct. 27) for Community Office Hours. The outreach event is being held Wednesday at a new location, the Central City Library at 2020 Jackson Ave. Hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the first hour, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., the Sanitation Department will be answering questions virtually. You’ll need to make an appointment to ask questions and discuss your concerns about garbage pickup and other Sanitation Department issues.

Traffic advisory: Octavia between Freret and Clara streets to close for six months

Beginning on Monday (Oct. 25) at 7 a.m., weather permitting, crews will close Octavia Street between Clara and Freret streets for approximately six months to safely accommodate full reconstruction of the roadway. The city’s contractor, Command Construction Industries, is starting construction on the $5.1 million bond-funded Octavia (Freret to Claiborne) full-depth reconstruction project. New roadways, sidewalks and underground utilities (water, sewer and drainage) are expected to be complete by summer 2022.  In general, Command Construction Industries will be working from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Permission to work on weekends may also be granted, if necessary.

Challenger Lesli Harris leads the District B pack in campaign contributions

With the primary election for City Council less than a month away, the candidates for the District B seat have spent more than $200,000 battling for a seat, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program. But it appears that several candidates have had to reach deep into their own pockets to finance an extra month of spending after election day was pushed from Oct. 9 to Nov. 13 due to Hurricane Ida. 

Both incumbent Jay H. Banks and one of his four challengers, Rosalind “Roz” Reed-Thibodaux, have only a few hundred dollars left in cash on hand, while challenger Rella Zapletal, the biggest spender in the race, is relying on a $200,000 loan she made to herself. 

Candidates Banks, Lesli Harris, Reed-Thibodaeux and Zapletal have received a total of $184,688.84 in campaign contributions in 2021, with more than half of that amount going to the Harris campaign. 

In addition, Harris loaned herself $28,700 and Zapletal has loaned herself $200,000. 

As of Wednesday morning (Oct. 20), the Louisiana Ethics Administration website did not show a campaign finance report for candidate Timothy David Ray, an adjunct professor at the University of New Orleans.

Joe Giarrusso is crushing his opponents in campaign contributions for District A City Council race

With less than a month to go until the primary election, the three candidates for the District A seat on the City Council have collected more than $285,000 in campaign contributions. Unfortunately for two of those candidates, nearly all of that money has gone to incumbent Joseph Giarrusso III. 

The councilman raised almost $260,000 this year for his campaign and still has roughly $230,000 cash on hand, according to the latest finance reports candidates submitted Thursday (Oct. 14) to the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program. And he’s also spent over three times more than his two opponents, Amy Misko and Robert Murrell, combined. 

Key contributors to Giarrusso’s campaign include political action committees that represent the real estate and hospitality industries and controversial landfill magnates Jim Ward and Fred Heebe. With the election coming on Nov.

City Council approves Patron Saint wine shop in Lower Garden District

A once-industrial corner of the Lower Garden District that’s been steadily adding new bars and businesses is expanding its offerings again, as City Council approved plans last week for a new wine shop at 1152 Magazine St. 

The council voted on Thursday (Oct. 7) to permit the opening of Patron Saint, which will sell wine, groceries, books, and locally-made home goods. The unanimous vote came with eight provisos, requiring the store to get city approval on everything from lighting to the placement of its trash container. The 1,500-square-foot shop is in a former industrial warehouse near the Pontchartrain Expressway overpass. The council granted permission in 2018 for the building, owned by Rosa and Seth Dunlap, to be turned into an avant-garde theater space with a bar and restaurant.

Candidate questions: Amy Misko, City Council District A

The upcoming election, which includes an open primary for all City Council seats, has been rescheduled for Nov. 13 due to Hurricane Ida. To give voters a chance to learn the policies, platforms and personal attributes their City Council candidates plan to bring to the office, Uptown Messenger has sent questionnaires to all of the District A and District B candidates. District A candidate Amy Misko reveals her answers below. City Council District A
Amy Misko, Libertarian

Place of birth: Buffalo, New York
Schools attended: State University of New York College at Geneseo, New York Institute of Technology.