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Runoff endorsements for March 15 election

10th March 2014   ·   0 Comments

Yes, there is an important election on Saturday.

The March 15 election is to select Orleans Parish Sheriff, and Corner, as well to fill New Orleans Council at-large and District C seats.

And while there seems to be little interest, we as African Americans must turn out and make our voices heard. Not only to elect those people we feel will represent us the best, but also to continue the trend recently where the Black vote has made the difference. When we stand out and stand up, folks begin to pay attention to us and give us the deference that has always been due to us as a people. When we turn up and turn out to exercise our right to vote, we turn heads and send shivers down the backs of those who devalue us, to the point that they are now trying to take our right to vote away, slowly and systematically. While we have always asked for a fair playing field, when we play up to our potential, they always try to move the goal posts.

We can stop that narrative. We must vote each and every time there is an election. To that end, we recommend:

Sheriff of Orleans Parish: Marlin Gusman

Some of the ads in this race between two veritable incumbents have been over the top. His opponent has raised honest issues about the operation of the jail and its failures.

However, what has not been mentioned was that Sheriff Gusman was already fixing those 2009 breakdowns, and had closed the House of Detention where they occurred PRIOR to the videos going public. Gusman has fought a pitched battle to construct a state-of-the-art jail that pre-empts the mandates of the federal consent decree, with plans to fix the problems before the Feds even urge the requirements. That’s a far cry for the condition of reform within NOPD prior to the police consent decrees.

The current Sheriff has also championed keeping non-violent offenders out of jail and in jobs. That pragmatism deserves another term to complete construction of his new incarceration facilities.

Coroner: Dwight McKenna

For years Dr. Dwight McKenna has levied diligent criticism at Minyard’s operation, at a time when the media only wanted to speak about the “Jazz-playing coroner.” Mc­Kenna highlighted NOPD coverups, allegedly aided and abetted by the Coroner’s staff, and raised questions of the integrity of the cadavers’ organs, that still warrant investigation. Such a record of being willing to stand as a lone voice of reform cannot be ignored.

Council At-Large Division 2: Cynthia Hedge-Morrell

There has not been a single major reform initiative in the post-Katrina era that Cynthia Hedge-Morrell has not either championed or openly supported. Not surprising for the one-time principal of what was labeled under her tenure as one of the best public schools in America, McDonogh #15, nor for one of the founders of NOCCA Prep and the modern NOCCA Campus.

During the redistricting fight, in particular, Cynthia Morrell championed the creation of a single lakefront district, bringing together Republican Lakeview and Democratic Gentilly in common, biracial cause. The side effect would have also created a unified Uptown seat, ending the bifurcated representation of District A, and allowed a greater cohesive neighborhood focus by the Councilperson. Cynthia Morrell was outvoted narrowly, but she vows another chance to make her case. Our editors agree. Please promote the District D Councilwoman to the At-Large post.

Council District C: Nadine Ramsey or Jackie Clarkson

Mayor Landrieu joked upon her announcement that Jackie Clarkson had so focused on District C that sometimes her colleagues had to remind her that she represented the whole city. In the humor, the truth that the At-Large Councilwoman never lost her focus on this Algiers to Tremé/St. Roch district was hard to deny. Rare is the Councilperson who can balance preservationist needs downtown with suburban desires, and remain popular with both groups. Perhaps it is due to quality of life issues that so obsess Clarkson.

Nadine Ramsey who has been running for this seat for the better part of a year, has designed a good economic development strategy to attract young, innovative entrepreneurs to the district she says is “one of the most culturally vibrant and diverse places in the world.” In particular, Ramsey demonstrated a singular willingness to work across parish lines. She is the only candidate who was open to the concept of coordinating Mardi Gras resources with Jefferson Parish — so as to not have parade schedules conflict during Metairie’s Family Gras — in ex­change for the suburban parish aiding Orleans with its huge policing obligations during parades.

Audubon Milliage Renewal: Vote Yes

It’s rare that a city owned property is the talk of the nation, but the Audubon Zoo and its affiliates from the Aquarium to the Insectarium to the Species Centers are just that. Audubon is consistently rated as one of the top five Zoos in America.

The Audubon Commission seeks a renewal of the milliage that has been on the books for four decades. This is not a tax increase, but will provide critical infrastructure dollars to modernize Institute facilities and provide for the next generation of wondrous children, marveling at the great animals.
For those who question whether they should pay for a predominantly Uptown and Downtown set of facilities, we answer that every school child that performs moderately well in class becomes a member of the Audubon Zoo, able to visit for free for a year. This is an educational milliage as much as any other, and deserves your support.

Parish-wide Proposition: (Disabled Veterans Homestead Exemption): Vote Yes

Have not those who have been wounded in combat earned our appreciation? This provides a $150,000 homestead exemption to wounded vets, and should be supported.

Lake Willow Subdivision Improvement District Proposition: Vote Yes

This is a renewal of a $300 fee, for three years, to provide increased police services in the Crowder Blvd. bordering neighborhood, along with some beautification services for an area that continues to deal with the post-Katrina devastation. It should be supported.

This article originally published in the March 10, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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