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.
Political newcomers Mandie Landry and Aimee Adatto Freeman will join newly re-elected Gov. John Bel Edwards in Baton Rouge next year, after each won competitive runoffs Saturday to represent Uptown New Orleans in the state House of Representatives. Landry, a lawyer who has represented pro-choice advocacy groups, won 53 percent of the vote in District 91 in the runoff against fellow lawyer Robert McKnight, an attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders. District 91 — held by term-limited State Rep. Walt Leger — represents a ribbon of Uptown that stretches from Hollygrove and Gert Town down through parts of Central City and Milan to the Irish Channel and Lower Garden District. Freeman, an adjunct professor at Tulane University’s business school, won 57 percent of the vote in District 98 over Kea Sherman, a small-business attorney. District 98 — held by state Rep. Neil Abramson, who is also term-limited — is nestled in the Riverbend roughly between the Jefferson Parish line and Napoleon Avenue, and including the Carrollton, Broadmoor, Audubon, University and Freret neighborhoods.
Buoyed by a new Mason-Dixon poll that shows a path — albeit small — to victory, Gov. John Bel Edwards spent Wednesday evening talking with young African-American artists like Brandan Odums, Kevin “2-Cent “ Griffin and Tayla Hunter as part of his ongoing outreach to previously under-appreciated constituencies. If Edwards is able to pull off what would be a Hail Mary victory on Saturday, he will have succeeded in three crucial areas: motivating minority voters who were unenthusiastic in the primary; reaching conservative voters who at one time supported former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu; and branding Republican opponent Eddie Rispone as too radical to be Louisiana’s next governor. Even as a slight majority of voters are inclined to pull the lever for Edwards, he still has to get supporters to the polls. Failure to accomplish this most important goal will lead to a Rispone victory and the defeat of the South’s only Democratic governor. Voters have to hand it to Rispone.
Protesters gathered Nov. 2 to march in the #PutHousingFirst March, a demonstration calling for affordable housing in the city. “This is a message to send to corporate America, to the politicians, to the slum lords, to everyone who’s taking advantage of the people who make less money, to increase the wages and work diligently at creating affordable housing,” said GNOHA’s Fred J. Johnson Jr.
The march and rally were an effort by the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance and Home by Hand to spread awareness about the city’s need for affordable housing and encourage community involvement. Organizers urged attendees to vote against all three of Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s revenue-related ballot propositions. GNOHA announced that it opposes the Short Term Rentals Occupancy Tax Proposition, the New Orleans Millage Proposition and the New Orleans Bond Proposition, saying that the initiatives do not support affordable housing, a claim the Mayor’s Office firmly denies.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell is working harder than the candidates themselves in this election cycle. Just like an Energizer bunny, she won’t slow down because she has so much to lose. Cantrell is betting on a robust turnout among the African-American and millennial voters who first got her elected to pass her tax package and re-elect Gov. John Bel Edwards. Many older black voters rely on traditional paper ballots circulated by the big four groups — BOLD, SOUL, LIFE, and COUP — all of whom produced glossy pieces this year featuring the candidates who helped pay for them, including Edwards and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. To get millennials to the polls, Cantrell has been tweeting up a storm – kind of like a president we all know – and constantly updating her Instagram feed. A high-energy leader who prefers her own counsel, Cantrell likes nothing better than keeping the momentum going by stirring up young progressives.