Filed Under:  Government, Local, Politics

IMANO endorses Cynthia Willard-Lewis in at-large race

20th February 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Travis M. Andrews
The Louisiana Weekly

It was early Valentine’s Day, so it made perfect sense that there would be so much love in the air.

But this wasn’t the variety pushed by sitcoms and Hallmark: The New Zion Church was filled with ministers wearing their Sunday best on a Tuesday (though do ministers ever not) and soft gospel music floating about. They were congregating as the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of New Orleans and the New Orleans Baptist Pastors Conference to endorse Cynthia Willard-Lewis for the At-Large Seat on New Orleans City Council. The election is March 24, 2012.

After Dr. C. S. Gordon, New Zion Baptist Church pastor and president o the Louisiana Missionary Baptist Sate Convention, called the pastors to the podium to stand behind Willard-Lewis, about 60 congregated, leaving an audience of around 10.

“We want to remind everyone that this isn’t about a seat,” Gordon said. “It’s about a situation.”

He said the African-American community lacks a voice in the current government, and that is the situation Willard-Lewis seeks to remedy.

“We know Cynthia Willard-Lewis will be that for us, because she has already been that for us, “ Gordon said. “We endorse [her] because she is a fighter who is not afraid to speak up and speak out, even when she has to stand alone.”

He said there are detractors who claim she does not stand a chance of winning then drew an analogy to the Saints (in the winning year) and the New York Giants of this year: two teams who many claimed had no shot. This was met with thundering applause.

He encouraged apathetic votes to make a showing in March.

“We are behind her candidacy not for any personal goals for ourselves but for the community,” Gordan said. “We will be working to ensure that she will be victorious in this election.”

Dr. Willie Gable, Progressive Baptist Church pastor and president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, spoke next and said simply, “We ask for your prayers and your support.”

Pastor Dwight Webster spoke next, calling the election a “golden opportunity to make our own history.”

He said Willard-Lewis will support access to hospital-based health care and increased public safety, two hot-button topics in New Orleans.

“She is the right person at the right time,” Webster said.

Pastor Corey Watson said her past actions show why she is well-suited for the position, because she is “a person who slept in her car during Katrina, who said, ‘I will fight for our people, the least of our people.’”

Finally, Willard-Lewis herself spoke, giving an impassioned speech in which she covered many topics, including education, healthcare, public safety and economic development.

“For too long, too many of our neighborhoods have not been restored with adequate resources,” she said, promising to put an end to both this and to neighborhoods affected by blight. “We’ll make sure families who returned are not being overtaken by blight in the neighborhoods. We will eliminate blight at the neighborhood level.”

She also said she will lead a school reform with a focus on career-based education, beginning by “turning around” Booker T. Washington High School.

“Not just one school,” she said. “That’s a start. We would make sure at all our schools, students are on a career path.”

The election date, March 24, is also the date for the Democratic Primary and Willard-Lewis encouraged her supporters to vote for President Obama.

“We will do both of these together,” she said.

This article originally published in the February 20, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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