Louisiana voters return to the polls this Saturday (Nov. 17) to settle runoffs in the statewide elections. Locally, New Orleans voters will resolve a runoff battle for an at-large City Council seat, while voters in Jefferson Parish will begin choosing a new sheriff. In all but the sheriff's race, which was not on the ballot on Oct. 20, we reiterate our support for the candidates we recommended in the primary. Although Louisiana already has elected a new reform governor, we remind our readers that the elections for attorney general, Legislature and local offices also are vital to moving Louisiana forward. Attorney General " We recommend James D. 'Buddy" Caldwell, the district attorney from Tensas, East Carroll and Madison parishes, to be Louisiana's next attorney general. Caldwell, 61, has been a DA for 29 years, and his vast experience in the courtroom places him light years ahead of his 41-year-old opponent, who has never tried a felony case before a jury. Experience always matters, and for this office it is paramount.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff " The late Sheriff Harry Lee loved politics more than the daily grind of running the sheriff's office, which is why he wisely chose Newell Normand to be his chief deputy. Normand, who ran the office for years, now holds the job on an interim basis. He knows the job thoroughly and has already proved his mettle. He is a solid choice for this very important office.
New Orleans Council At-Large " Two familiar candidates, both with council experience, are in the runoff for the at-large seat vacated by Oliver Thomas, who resigned Aug. 13 after pleading guilty to a federal bribery scheme. In the primary, we endorsed both Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson and Cynthia Willard-Lewis, and we affirm that endorsement this week. Clarkson, a Realtor, served Algiers and the French Quarter as the District C council member in two previous terms, from 1990 to 1994 and from 2002 to 2006; she also has served as a West Bank state representative, from 1994 to 2002. Willard-Lewis is the longest-serving member of the council and a former state representative (from 1993 to 2000). Both women have strong records as advocates for neighborhoods, which is so very important as New Orleans rebuilds. We believe either would serve New Orleans well as the council's new at-large member.
Senate District 2 " Incumbent Ann Duplessis has represented eastern New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward with integrity and effectiveness. She works well with her colleagues from other parts of the state to advance the cause of her district. In the runoff, she faces the man she beat four years ago " a longtime politician whom voters wisely tossed out of office in favor of Duplessis.
Senate District 5 " We heartily recommend Rep. Cheryl Gray for this promotion. She is a proven legislator who works well with her colleagues to get things done. New Orleans will need effectiveness and experience in the next four years, and Gray will bring those qualities to the Senate.
Senate District 7 " We repeat our primary recommendation of optometrist and businessman David Heitmeier. His grasp of complex public health care issues is unrivaled among all the candidates we interviewed this year, and Louisiana will need that kind of expertise in the coming years. We also like his low-key style, which stands in stark contrast to the shrill tone of his opponent's campaign.
House District 83 " Attorney Danyelle Taylor is a lifelong resident of this West Bank district who knows its issues and challenges firsthand. She will join several other West Bank newcomers in bringing fresh leadership to the House.
House District 91 " We endorse former prosecutor Walt Leger III. His tenure as an assistant district attorney will make him a knowledgeable voice on criminal justice matters, and he also has a solid record of civic involvement.
House District 92 " Former Kenner interim council member Michael McMyne has a record of independence and integrity. An author and motivational speaker, he will bring a unique skill set to the legislative process.
House District 94 " New Rep. Nick Lorusso won this seat in March. We endorsed him then because we liked his no-nonsense approach to lawmaking. In his brief tenure, he has shown an ability to work with others and to learn from legislative veterans. He deserves a full term.
House District 95 " No recommendation.
House District 98 " Attorney Neil Abramson is a New Orleans native who grew up in Gonzales and Baton Rouge. He is smart, focused, down to earth and ready to tackle the issues that confront this diverse district.
Above all, we urge all our readers to vote this Saturday.