Several people whose names are expected to appear on the Feb. 1 ballot held their official kickoffs last week, including Orleans Parish School Board President Ira Thomas, who has announced his intention to challenge Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman (for more on the race, see Clancy DuBos' "Politics," p. 16). Thomas made his announcement Dec. 5 at the Reserve of Orleans banquet hall in the 7th Ward. The other declared candidate in that race is former Sheriff Charles Foti, who held the office just before Gusman.
As of press time, New Orleans City Council Vice President Stacy Head, who holds one of the council's two at-large seats, was scheduled to make her campaign announcement Dec. 7 at the Pavilion of the Two Sisters in New Orleans City Park. Her only announced challenger is Eugene Green, a former chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson. Green announced last summer he would run for an at-large position.
Under the city's new election law, candidates must declare for one of the two at-large council seats. With City Council President Jackie Clarkson leaving her at-large seat in the spring because of term limits, most of the at-large contenders are expected to run for her soon-to-be-empty seat rather than challenge incumbent Head. Among those who have said they're likely to enter the race: District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell (who is term-limited out of her current position), former interim District E Councilman Freddie Charbonnet, and defense attorney Jason Williams, who ran for district attorney in 2008.
Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer said last week she would not run for re-election in District C, a diverse district that covers Algiers, the French Quarter, the Faubourg Marigny and parts of Mid-City and Bywater. That left the field wide open for the only formally declared candidate so far, former judge Nadine Ramsey, who also ran for mayor in 2010.
State Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, who was known to be considering the District C race, announced last month he would not run. Now, he says, "I never say never." A possible wild card is Clarkson, who is term-limited as an at-large candidate but who reportedly has been besieged with calls in the wake of Palmer's announcement. Clarkson was first elected to the council as a District C representative in 1990, but lost her bid for re-election in 1994 to Troy Carter, who bested Clarkson by fewer than 100 votes. She returned as District C representative from 2002 to 2006, then won her current at-large seat.
If Clarkson changes her mind about retirement and jumps into the race for District C, she would be an immediate frontrunner and inject a note of interest into a municipal ballot with few surprises so far.
Qualifying for all races is this week: Wednesday through Friday (Dec. 11-13). The primary is Feb. 1, 2014, with a runoff if necessary March 15, 2014.