It’s no secret that the New Orleans Fire Department has been understaffed and underfunded for far more than a decade. The city has consistently told firefighters that they should be good soldiers and wait their turn. But their turn has never come. Firefighters are asking — if not now, when? Instead of having the city attorney schedule a negotiating session to discuss outstanding issues, Mayor LaToya Cantrell cancelled all leave and vacation time, in an effort to force firefighters to work extra shifts during Mardi Gras season.
Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking,” commemorated 10 years without any executions in Louisiana — the longest such period in the state’s history — at a “Vigil for Life” ceremony in New Orleans on Jan. 7. Louisiana has executed 28 individuals since 1976. The 28th was Gerald Bordelon, 47, a Livingston Parish man sentenced to death for the murder of Courtney LeBlanc, his 12-year-old stepdaughter. He was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 6:32 p.m. on Jan.
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.
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.
With early voting starting Saturday, New Orleans legislative candidates are pulling together the cash and people resources needed to fund last-minute mail and get-out-the-vote activities. At least five legislative candidates held fundraisers this week as well as soliciting donations through social media. Despite last night’s steady rain, several hundred donors were posing for photos and dropping off checks around town.
House District 98 candidate Aimee Adatto Freeman drew the biggest crowd at the Uptown home of Kara Van de Carr and Darryl Byrd. Joining Freeman were her parents Be-Be and Ken Adatto, pollster Ron Faucheux, Aviation Board present Michael Bagneris and wife Madalyn, City Hall insider Bob Tucker, Dana and Steve Hansel, Chip Flower, Maria Wisdom, Richard Freeman, Frances Fayard and outgoing state Rep. Neil Abramson. “I’ve never seen a candidate work as hard as Aimee knocking doors and listening to the voters,” said former City Council President Stacy Head.
Secretary of State Candidate Gwen Collins-Greenup told a New Orleans audience Wednesday night that every citizen should receive a receipt after casting his or her vote. “Printing out a paper receipt would build confidence in the election process,” she said. Collins-Greenup would also institute post election audits to ensure the accuracy of results and that “every Louisiana voice is heard.”
She believes that early voting should be allowed until the day before an election and that the voting hours should be extended to accommodate working mothers. “Louisiana is not a red state, it’s a non-voting state,” said Collins-Greenup. Collins-Greenup, a Democrat, is again facing off for a second time against current Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican who was first elected in 2018 to fill the unexpired term of Tom Schedler.