Viewpoint: One thing is certain about Saturday’s District 93 election: low turnout

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Danae Columbus

The Democrats competing for House District 93 include Alonzo Knox, Taj Wallace Fox Richardson, Morgan Clevenger and Steven Kennedy.

The election on Saturday (Feb. 18) to replace former state Rep. Royce Duplessis in House District 93 is a popularity contest, pure and simple. The ultimate winner will be the candidate who does the best job of getting his or her friends, family and admirers to the polls on Endymion Saturday.

Duplessis was sworn into the state Senate last week during a well-attended ceremony at Xavier University. Fast, furious and barely funded, the race includes six competitors who reflect the district’s geographic and ethnic diversity. HD 93 includes 24 precincts in Central City, the Lower Garden and Warehouse districts, the French Quarter, Treme, Marigny and Seventh Ward.  If no candidate garners 50% plus one of the votes cast, a runoff will take place in March. 

Only 636 citizens cast their ballot during the early voting period. Not many more are expected at the polls on Saturday. After all, why would a citizen want to possibly fight Mardi Gras traffic and potential parking problems just to go vote? Because voting is important. It’s democracy in action.

If no candidate wins outright on Saturday, the two top contenders might need less than 300 votes each to make the runoff. What’s more, the seat is only secure through the end of 2023. The winner will serve in one regular session of the Louisiana Legislature before having to raise even more money and qualify again for election in the fall of 2023.  

Planner and real estate developer Steven Kennedy got off to a quick start and was the early favorite in the race. As an active member of the parish’s democratic committee, Kennedy was able to secure the group’s endorsement.  Kennedy is also a former felon with multiple convictions. Many supporters were able to look beyond his past drug and weapons convictions — but could not ignore his history of domestic violence.  Subsequently, his star began to fade, but Kennedy is still fighting. 

At that same time Sibil “Fox” Richardson, the other candidate in the race with a criminal history, shot up like a rocket. She gathered almost every important endorsement from U.S. Rep. Troy Carter to at-large council members JP Morrell and Helena Moreno. Moreno had held the HD 93 seat prior to Duplessis and, with her husband, voted early in this election. A review of citizens who cast their votes during early voting did not turn up Richardson or her husband. Her campaign office said she plans to vote Saturday with her sons and members of the Jeep Dat charity group. 

Some citizens have criticized Richardson for not being born in New Orleans and for promoting her new book during the campaign. Either way, pundits say that Richardson — a formerly incarcerated Black woman who is now a successful entrepreneur and a minister — could make the runoff.

Former Marine and Treme small business owner Alonzo Knox has also risen in popularity. Knox worked for U.S. Sen. John Breaux and the Police & Justice Foundation. Most important, Knox is supported by prison-reform leader Norris Henderson — founder of the organization V.O.T.E. — who has the people-power to deliver voters to the polls despite the parades.  

Matthew Hill

The three remaining candidates also deserve equal consideration. Popular 7th Ward neighborhood association leader and entrepreneur Morgan Clevenger can make the runoff just by getting her neighbors out to vote. Clevenger frequently speaks at the City Council on crime and other matters. She has blanketed the House District with signs, and recently ran unsuccessfully for Council District D. Political newcomer Taj Wallace, a film and television actor, is well respected in her corner of the district. Longtime Faubourg Marigny restaurant manager Matt Hill, who ran twice previously for mayor as a Democrat before switching parties, could rely on his substantial customer base and the district’s Republican voters.

There are many important issues that will be debated during the regular session of the Louisiana Legislature which starts in April. HD 93 residents deserve to have the best qualified legislator represent them.  As a concerned voter in HD 93, I cast my ballot early.

The polls open Saturday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. The first parade, Iris, doesn’t start until 11 a.m. on the Uptown route. Driving, walking or biking to the voting locations will be easy during the morning hours. There’s no excuse not to get out and vote.  

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 former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, former 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 is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be reached at

This column was updated to add that Sibil Richardson is voting Saturday with her sons. 

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