Filed Under:  Local, News, Politics

Sanders runs for District E

22nd October 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
Contributing Writer

Jerrelda Drummer Sanders calls a vote for her in the District E special election “a vote for progress!”

As she explained in an interview with The Louisiana Weekly, “I have the experience, the energy, and a plan of action (District E Quality of Life Plan) ready to execute. I am a leader who has invested in the district. I have advocated on behalf of the district. I am ready to restore the faith in good government and looking forward to making the constituency proud!”

“I am a District E resident who has lived in the Lower 9th Ward, the Desire Housing Projects (now the Desire Estate), and finally a resident in Eastern New Orleans. I have invested in the district as a homeowner and business owner. I invested in my community as I quickly restored my home after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, while living in a trailer on my front lawn.”

SANDERS

“I became part of the solution that proved proposed ideas that suggested the east should become green space, were wrong. Re­building allowed me to use my home as a landmark for all to view and prove that we were determined to protect our district. I have acted as a leader in my community as I founded the West Barrington Neighborhood Association where I have served as president for the past three years and New Orleans East Women of @ction. I am an advocate in the community as I have lead efforts such as A Call to @ction, to provide the business community with 1,800 signatures to unite the community and fight to bring business, recreation, and a hospital to the district. I opposed a recent tax increase proposed for New Orleans East residents. Finally, I am not afraid to take the tough stances that District E needs. My experience will allow me to unite this very diverse district! The entire district! The Lower 9, Desire Estates, New Orleans East, and Venetian Isles. I am committed to the reality that this district shall bear the fruit and experience the renaissance that neighboring districts have witnessed. I am ready, willing, and able to energize District E!”

She has a tough road ahead of her on the first Tuesday in November, however. She faces veteran politicos Rep. Austin Badon and James Grey for the seat forcibly vacated by Jon Johnson—upon his admission of wrongdoing to a series of federal corruption statutes.

She runs for his unexpired term, explaining, “I am seeking election to the New Orleans City Council because I know that District E deserves strong leadership and I have the experience, energy, and resources to move the district forward.”

“My unique qualifications in­clude seven years of experience working as an aide to the council. I am prepared to write and introduce legislation that will protect the interest of the district. Finally, I am aware of the social skills needed to address issues such as mental illness, the effects of compromised living wages, and the frustration of a district that has endured living with less.”

Her top three campaign planks include what she calls “the District E Quality of Life Plan.” They are Public Safety, Economic Develop­ment, and Code Enforcement.

On that last point, with nearly a third of the homes in New Orleans are abandoned properties or in extreme dilapidated condition. Current constitutional changes in the state constitution post-New London make using eminent do­main as a method to force land­owners to fix their properties difficult. This is particularly true in District E. When asked what her answer to fixing the vacant housing problem was, she said, “As a Real Estate Broker, my expertise in real estate would caution me to be sure that every effort is exhausted to assist residents who were uninsured or underinsured and have limited resources. As it relates to properties that require eminent domain, due to a frail foundation, the property should be demolished. However, the property owner should be protected from land grabbing. The solution to vacant pro­perties in the district can include collaborating with or­ganizations to seek grants to maintain the grass to keep the community clean and safe. Another option is to collaborate with organizations that can provide affordable opportunities for homeowners such as modular homes. Finally, property owners who are not interested in coming back and have no interest in properly maintaining it should consider selling to qualified buyers/first time homebuyers who are interested in investing in the city.”

She also supports the position, on the ballot at the same time as she, to change the Charter to elect the two At-Large posts independently. “I am open to amending the charter to elect the At-Large post independently. Research suggest that an independent elected post for the At-Large members will offer solution to the confusion about whe­ther or not voters actually have the opportunity to elect individuals who will truly represent them as Members At-Large. This will eliminate the voters gambling with their vote with a one shot vote and instead offer fairness and true options.”

One element of the new master plan is to eliminate the overpass over N. Claiborne cutting the Tremé and St. Roch neighborhood in half. When asked her thoughts on ending the I-10 route behind the French Quarter, she replied, “I am aware that there was a $2 million grant allocated in 2010 to study tearing down the elevated 1-10 over Claiborne, which would restore the Claiborne Corridor. A corridor that was once a thriving business community as described by remaining businesses who witnessed the construction of the interstate. I understand that this and restore characteristics to the community that will be beneficial. However, I would be interested in reviewing the findings from the study to evaluate the cost of repairing the onramps of the bridge and the cost for upkeep of the streets with the increased traffic if the bridge is removed. I would also be interested in how the project would be financed and if the financing could be better used to address ongoing issues with deteriorating roads particularly in urban communities. I am open to the idea. However, I would require additional information to support a decision.”

She queried if she backs the BGR’s proposal for Contracting Reform, she answered, “I commend the work that the BGR puts into the research and recommendations offered to create transparency and accountability. After reviewing the report, I would suggest amending the report to omit the creation of a newly created Chief Procurement Officer. The city is already accused of creating departments that require hefty salaries that will certainly require a highly paid staff to accompany. I would recommend creating a selection committee with alternates who should serve for two-year terms. I would also suggest that language includes importance of including and training local contractors to bid on such contracts. Finally, the report should include the 35 percent participation, which current legislation mandates but is often subjected to loopholes. While I agree that Contracting Reform is necessary to end the stigma that has been cast upon our leaders for back door deals and rigged RFP’s, but to adopt the proposal without suggested amendments would be subject to criticisms.”

As for some concrete areas where regional interparish cooperation is politically possible, where she would support joint efforts in what areas, Sanders said, “Hurricane and disaster preparedness and multi-jurisdictional communication among law enforcement are concrete areas where inter-parish cooperation is politically possible. I support such joint efforts in both areas because this eliminates panic and miscommunication during emergencies and times of crisis.”

She came out strongly in support of a state law requiring a public vote before milliages could be rolled forward after being rolled back. “I would author a Resolution to support state law requiring a public vote before milliages could be rolled forward after being rolled back. I believe that it will give an opportunity to have public input and offer education about the milliage and its purpose. As it relates to keeping milliages rolled back, I will do everything in my power to abstain from raising taxes. I believe that if the city becomes responsible and collect taxes and penalties that are owed then we will not need to raise taxes. We also need to look at the duplication of services and look for ways to have the city fiscally sound without relying upon taxpayers who are already in a financial crisis.”

As for a new City Hall in Big Charity, as some have suggested as a use for the former hospital, Sanders noted, “Considering the fact that I have worked in city hall (built in 1958) for several years, I understand that maintenance and necessary repairs can be expensive for the aged building. It is bad for business as slow, out of order elevators and unhealthy elements can be a problem. As it relates to turning Big Charity (built in 1939) into the New City Hall, I would request to see a proposed budget to update Charity. In addition, I would request a report detailing other available buildings as both buildings referenced are over 50 years. I would also be open to a report to consider new construction.”

When asked is she worried if the effort to put an Outlet Mall at the Riverwalk could endanger the redevelopment of the Jazzland site, she said no. “As a business owner, I understand why it is important to give a facelift to the Riverwalk and the Central Business District. They are very vital to our tourism industry. I am not worried that the redevelopment will endanger the Jazzland site because I am well aware that the next best thing to having upscale shopping in the city of New Orleans is having two upscale shopping areas in the city of New Orleans.”

“As Councilmember, I will invite Request for Proposals (RFP) from innovative developers who are looking for space, a viable tax base, and a Return on Investment (ROI), which District E has the space to entertain!”

On that note, in closing, Sanders noted that her most important job will be to accelerate recovery in District E. “As a leader, Council­person, I will collaborate with the business community and work with the administration to streamline the permitting process, identify tax incentives, and market District E as a business friendly environment. I would also aggressively seek out businesses to establish a place in District E as done in a 2011 call to action I spearheaded. I will implement a taskforce in the district to create inclusion from constituents. Finally, I will use my experience to work with district police commanders to provide a safe environment for families to work, invest, and live.”

This article was originally published in the October 22, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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