Filed Under:  Local, News, Politics

Social justice community leader joins race for District C

13th January 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Michael Patrick Welch
Contributing Writer

Seventy-three-year-old social justice advocate and crime-fighter Eloise Williams announced recently that she will run as an Independent to replace Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who’s not seeking re-election in District C.

Williams told The Louisiana Weekly she has never before run for any office, but she’s known citywide—especially in her Algiers neighborhood—as a dedicated advocate for community voices in public conversations on topics from crime, to construction, to environmental issues.

Williams will compete for District C against 2010 mayoral candidate and former Civil Court Judge Nadine Ramsey, and education advocate Lourdes F. Moran, fresh from her defeat in the race for the 4th District seat on the Orleans Parish School Board. Nola.com reported on January 6, that Carlos Williams has dropped out of the race. All of the candidates reside in Algiers.

Williams’ desire to re-open “cold cases,” or unsolved murders, serves as the cornerstone of her campaign. Williams says her dedication to crime eradication came into focus in 1983 after her oldest son was murdered. “That’s when I learned that the justice system is not concerned with killing,” she told The Louisiana Weekly. “Then my grandson who was nine years old was murdered in 1994.”

After her youngest son came out of the military, he too was murdered in post-Katrina 2005. “Couldn’t get the justice system to move on any of that,” Williams explained, “so in this election I speak for all those who’ve lost loved ones in this city.”

Williams is also outspoken about the need to raise the minimum wage to $15. With all the new development in New Orleans, Williams is concerned with contracts for local minorities and women. She claims she will push for “better jobs, and quality, affordable housing with rent control.”

Williams also claims she will take on New Orleans’ overcrowded jails. “I would make sure that when anyone is arrested it is properly documented why and how. And we don’t want them going to jail for a misdemeanor. Can’t we just write out a citation? We don’t need them to become felonies.”

In a morning interview with WBOK 1230 AM on January 7, Williams gave listeners a pointed answer when she was asked what made her run for District C: “Jackie Clarkson did…overriding the people with [her] mischievous doings.”

Clarkson, term-limited out of her at-large position, decided to instead run for the District C seat, which she has held three times in the past. Williams says that back when she worked with Clarkson during the Marc Morial administration in the early 90s to build the Cut Off Center in an underdeveloped area of the West Bank, she learned that, “Jackie Clarkson as [a] councilperson at the time was not interested in making a difference in the community or developing the community.”

Williams adds, “Jackie has been on Council as long as you can be. She’s not going to do anything for underdeveloped communities. She’s not going to open these cold cases. We don’t need her.”

Williams is highly critical of the exceedingly strict new noise ordinances Jackie Clarkson and the current City Council are expected to pass this month. She said she would fight beside the musicians and other service-industry workers who stand to lose jobs and income if a small, well-financed group of residents succeed in turning down the volume on music citywide, and especially in the two musical jewels of District C: the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street.

“Everyone knows New Orleans has a history of music for centuries!” scoffs Williams. “Why come here to the French Quarter, which is the world’s most recognized community of music, and try to stop people from doing what they do best?”

This article originally published in the January 13, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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