Citizens have a chance to choose new leaders -- or keep some of those already in place. The entire world is watching to see what direction New Orleanians take going forward. We encourage all registered voters to recognize the importance of this election and get to the polls on Saturday. In the meantime, we make the following recommendations:
Mitch Landrieu for Mayor
We endorse Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu because he has the skill sets that New Orleans needs to get its recovery moving faster and in the right direction. He has years of political experience, yet solid credentials as a reformer. As lieutenant governor, he has worked closely with hospitality-industry leaders to bolster Louisiana's cultural economy -- while implementing fiscal reforms in his office. Above all, Landrieu has a long history of reaching across racial and party lines to work with a wide variety of people. More than anything else right now, New Orleans needs a mayor who can get things done.
Four years ago, we enthusiastically endorsed Ray Nagin as our new mayor. We still like many things about him -- his charm, his swagger, and his honesty among them. Unfortunately, Mayor Nagin has not been very effective at getting things done -- mostly because he consistently fails to reach out to other officials whose cooperation is vital to the city's progress. For the longest time, we hoped that Mayor Nagin would hone some political skills and grow into his job. That hasn't happened. In fact, Katrina and its aftermath underscored his shortcomings -- and the city has suffered for it. New Orleans cannot afford to wait any longer for Mayor Nagin to "get it." We need a mayor who understands -- right now -- how to make government work for the greater good. Mitch Landrieu will be that mayor.
Some have criticized Landrieu for being "too political" or "yet another Landrieu." Those are shallow arguments. Our next mayor will have to put together coalitions to move New Orleans forward; being an effective politician is therefore going to be Job One. As for his family, we suggest Landrieu's detractors look up Time magazine's issue of April 25, 2005, which named Chicago's Richard Daley as one of America's five best mayors. Daley's father was the epitome of an old-line political boss, yet he is the darling of the Windy City's business community. We urge all our readers to put "politics" aside and vote for the man most capable of getting New Orleans moving again -- Mitch Landrieu.
Arnie Fielkow or Jackie Clarkson
Voters re-elected Oliver Thomas to his at-large council seat on April 22. Now two strong candidates -- former New Orleans Saints executive Arnie Fielkow and District C Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson -- face each other in the runoff. We like them both because we believe either would make an excellent co-leader on the council with Thomas. This is a rare instance in which the city cannot lose. We hope whoever falls short in this contest will continue to offer himself or herself to the city in some capacity, because New Orleans needs more people of this caliber in her recovery efforts.
Council, District A: Jay Batt
We renew our primary endorsement of incumbent Jay Batt. He is a staunch supporter of getting the City Council out of the business of reviewing the City Planning Commission's land-use decisions, and he favors a Master Plan for the city -- one that has the force of law. A businessman, he helped remove the domicile requirement for police officers, and he has stood by neighborhoods in their efforts to rebound after Katrina.
Council, District B: Stacy Head
We likewise renew our endorsement of Stacy Head in District B. An attorney who has worked in numerous civic and charitable causes, Head has personally helped put blighted housing back into commerce by buying and renovating dilapidated properties, and she brings a wide range of experience to the task of making public policy at the city level.
Council, District C: Kristen Palmer
Voters in District C will be electing a new council member because incumbent Jackie Clarkson is running for one of the two at-large seats. This diverse district needs a council representative who is sensitive to neighborhood issues, committed to historic preservation and a tireless worker. We are impressed by both candidates in the runoff, but we give the nod to Kristen Giselson Palmer because of her extensive community and civic work.
Clerk, Criminal Court: Nick Varrecchio
The clerk keeps the criminal justice system moving along by safeguarding records and evidence -- and serves as chief elections officer for Orleans Parish. Those are awesome responsibilities. Attorney Nick Varrecchio has extensive experience in voting-rights matters and criminal law. He also has worked to improve the office by challenging many of its recent shortcomings -- particularly in its handling of post-Katrina polling places. He will make an excellent clerk.