Not since Peggy Wilson was last elected as an at-large member of the New Orleans City Council in the mid 1990s has a New Orleans Republican won a citywide race. But that didn’t stop Republican lawyer Scott Shea from joining the crowded field of candidates for Judge, First City Court, Division B.
Shea himself served two years on the City Council and hails from a family of judges. His brother Mark currently serves on Traffic & Municipal Court. His father, former Municipal Court Judge John Shea, enjoyed an illustrious 30-year career on the bench. His late uncle Frank Shea was a no-nonsense Criminal District Court jurist.
A mixture of seasoned elected officials and political newcomers wanting to make a difference streamed into Criminal District Court yesterday, Jan. 8, to qualify for parish and state political committees and a lone judgeship in First City Court. As expected, attorney Robbins Graham, who retired from the state’s Office of Family and Children’s Services earlier this week, became the first candidate to file for the open seat at First City Court. Graham had been planning for run for Civil District Court later this year but moved up his timetable when this vacancy suddenly occurred. Graham might get an almost-free ride.
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.
In tonight’s Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, the seven participating candidates probably won’t dwell on yesterday’s impeachment vote by the U.S. House of Representatives. Though some – especially former Vice President Joe Biden – might strongly believe that President Trump abused his power, America’s voters are evenly split as to whether he should be removed from office.
A just released Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of 900 adults showed that 48% of voters surveyed favor impeachment and removal from office and that 44% believe that President Trump’s previous actions before the situation with Ukraine were already grounds for impeachment. Congressional Democrats took a big risk when they stood by their principles knowing full well that the Republican controlled Senate will acquit President Trump. Not even one House Republican voted for impeachment. At the same time, some members of Congress — but not 2nd District Rep. Cedric Richmond — could have done serious damage to their own electability in 2020 if the mood of the voters in the suburbs and among minorities shifts more toward the president. GOP-aligned super PACs have already been pouring millions into digital ads against those who voted for impeachment.
In a recent speech to the Committee for a Better New Orleans, or CBNO, outgoing state Sen. J.P. Morrell urged attendees to talk with legislators statewide about issues important to them. “Legislators want to hear from the public,” said Morrell. Sometimes a legislator might not have a great deal of information about a specific bill and has not made a decision how to vote. When they hear from citizens – especially those who are directly impacted by the legislation or the problem it would solve – their decisions are better informed. “You can change legislators’ minds by talking to them,” Morrell explained.
To combat the taxing of menstrual products, the national Tampon Tax Protest Tour for menstrual equity will make its New Orleans stop on Tulane University’s campus today (Nov. 22). “Recognizing that taxes on menstrual products are discriminatory and illegal,” organizers said, “New Orleans will be part of a collective action against taxing these products, which, along with diapers, are currently taxed by the State of Louisiana.” The protest is part of a national effort called Tax Free. Period, organized by LOLA, a “lifelong brand for a woman’s body,” and Period Equity, a law and policy organization fighting for menstrual equity.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the political organization BOLD scored big in Saturday’s elections. Cantrell built a strong bond with Gov. John Bel Edwards more than a year ago when she sought his help on increasing New Orleans’ share of tax dollars generated here. She became an integral part of his campaign and his victory, which should yield generous dividends for New Orleans during the next four years. Cantrell’s Action New Orleans team of more than 250 volunteers knocked on 70,000 doors, sent 3,500 text messages and made 50,000 calls in support of Gov. Edwards and Cantrell’s Ballot of Yes. They also assisted with two GOTV (get out the vote) rallies, including an election eve event that drew 5,000.
State Rep. Royce Duplessis, who represents House District 93, visited the Lower Garden District Association meeting on Monday for a question-and-answer session. District 93 includes parts of the Lower Garden District and Central City, where he lives. The election ended on Saturday for the voters, but it’s only just begun for legislators, who are now all vying for key committee positions. Duplessis said he’s working toward a spot on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. Duplessis took Helena Moreno’s legislative seat in May 2018 after emerging victorious from a special primary election to replace Morena, who had been elected to her City Council at-large position.
To cinch her victory in the District 98 runoff on Saturday, Aimee Adatto Freeman consolidated her base in the Audubon and university-area neighborhoods to sweep every precinct between Jefferson and Carrollton avenues. District-wide, Freeman won 42 precincts on Saturday to Kea Sherman’s 10. Freeman won all but one of the 37 where she had placed first in October’s crowded six-person primary, adding five where Carlos Zervigon had led and one where Ravi Sangisetty had placed first. Sherman held on to all six of those where she led in the primary in Freret and west Carrollton, and added four more nearby: two where Zervigon had led, one of Sangisetty’s, and one where Freeman had led in October. The bellwether precinct — where Freeman won 57.8 percent of the vote, most similar to her total across the district — was Ward 13 Precinct 15 in Broadmoor (along Claiborne between Jefferson and Napoleon).
The October primary for the District 91 seat in the state House of Representatives was nearly a three-way tie in votes cast between Robert McKnight, Mandie Landry and third-place finisher Carling Dinkler. To secure her victory in the runoff Saturday night, Landry picked up nearly every precinct where Dinkler had led — ultimately holding McKnight to the same number of precincts where he led in the primary. In October, McKnight led in 23 precincts of the district’s 53 voting precincts. Dinkler led in 17; Landry led in 12 and Dinkler and Landry tied exactly in one. On Saturday, Landry won 30 of the 53.