The Orleans Parish chapter of the Alliance for Good Government launches the election season this week with back-to-back forums -- starting with the hot contest to replace retiring District Attorney Harry Connick. The primary election is Oct. 5. Any runoffs will be Nov. 5. The forums are free and open to the public.
The district attorney's forum begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Lindy C. Boggs International Conference Center CERM building at the University of New Orleans. The eight candidates in the race are Dale Atkins, James Gray III, Eddie Jordan, Paul Massa, Morris Reed, Dolores Mason Smith, Gary Wainwright and Franz Zibilich.
At 8:30 p.m., Juvenile Court Judge Section A incumbent Ernestine Gray will face lone challenger Sherry Watters. Judge Gray is the wife of James Gray III, candidate for district attorney. At 9 p.m., Section D Juvenile Court Judge incumbent Lawrence Lagarde Jr. faces lone challenger Yolanda J. King.
The Thursday night forums begin at 7 p.m. at Axel's, 3900 Tulane Ave. Incumbent Register of Conveyances Gaspar J. Schiro will defend his record against lone challenger Donald Ray Pryor. At 7:30 p.m., Recorder of Mortgages incumbent Desiree M. Charbonnet faces a re-match with Mike McCrossen, whom she ousted four years ago, and Nicole Sheppard. At 8 p.m., Constable, 1st City Court incumbent Lambert Boissiere III's lone opponent will be Gene Dooling. At 8:30 p.m. Criminal District Court Section B Judge Patrick Quinlan's lone challenger is Yancy Carter. At 9 p.m. the forum for judge, Section F, features four candidates: Michael H. Idoyaga, Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Harry S. Tervalon and Ben Willard.
The forums resume 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Sept. 9-11) at Axel's, with races for judicial seats at the state Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, Municipal Court, Civil Court and Criminal Court.
The Alliance will announce its endorsements at the end of each evening, according to President Robert Moffett. For more information, call 822-2224.
Sit Down for Your Rights
The group Bring Back the Benches (BBB) has now met twice at St. Mark's Community Center, 1130 N. Rampart St., to discuss the removal of the metal benches in Jackson Square, the rights of French Quarter musicians and tap dancers, and the civil liberties of the homeless within the current French Quarter "clean-up." At the meeting this past Wednesday, resident John Calhoun, who has worked in the Quarter for the last five years, proposed that people protest the removal of the benches by bringing a chair to Jackson Square and sitting in it.
The group (which meets again at St. Mark's at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4) is planning a sit-in at Jackson Square at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8 (See this week's "Set Break."). The date marks the 32nd anniversary of then-Mayor Moon Landrieu's closing off of Chartres Street to automobile traffic as part of a larger effort to make the Quarter more pedestrian-friendly. Calhoun hopes that the protest will make a very basic point: "The removal of benches from a public place is absurd. Sitting on a bench in a public square is a basic freedom."