BGR’s New Orleans mayoral candidate survey covers hot topics

By Richard Rainey

Source: | The Times-Picayune

September 14, 2017

Everybody is looking for answers from the crowded field of candidates for the New Orleans mayoral race. The nonprofit watchdog Bureau for Governmental Research took its crack at it, calling on each of the 18 candidates to answer questions based on a series of detailed public policy reports its researchers published in recent years.

It got responses from nine candidates to most of its questions. You can read the results here.

The race to succeed Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been tepid as New Orleans deals with bouts of crime, a crippled drainage system, football season and attention-grabbing Atlantic hurricanes.

But there is less than five weeks to go before the Oct. 14 primary will, in all likelihood, winnow the race to two candidates for a Nov. 18 runoff.

Former judges Michael Bagneris and Desiree Charbonnet, along with City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell lead the field, but not far behind is businessman Troy Henry who finished a distant second to Landrieu in the 2010 election.

BGR’s survey covered fertile ground, asking questions on policy ranging from public safety, infrastructure improvements, tax exemptions, civil service rules to economic development.

The questionnaires went out July 24. The candidates had respond by Aug. 11 — the height of the drainage crisis that, in some cases, colored their answers.

Beyond Bagneris, Cantrell, Charbonnet and Henry, the candidates who responded are Manny “Chevrolet” Bruno, Matthew Hill, Frank Scurlock, Johnese Smith and Tommie Vassel.

The results are worth diving into. Meanwhile, here are some of the more interesting — or head-scratching — takeaways:

  • Bagneris is sticking to his pledge of a $10,000 raise for every New Orleans police officer.
  • When it comes to answering questions about funding the NOPD, Desiree Charbonnet would rather people read her website.
  • Smith would turn the NOPD into a gladiator army.
  • Bruno would fire everyone.
  • Hill is all about “Lean Sigma Six,” which he describes as an across-the-board “process management system.”
  • Hill would also like to supply lighter uniforms for police officers in summer.
  • Cantrell repeated her pledge to bring more state tax revenue to New Orleans to form an infrastructure fund.
  • Scurlock would spend $25 million on street repairs in his first year.
  • Vassel would eliminate Landrieu’s deputy mayor structure in City Hall.
  • Bagneris and Cantrell would keep Landrieu’s executive order protecting a transparent, competitive contracting process. Charbonnet said she would review it. Henry would amend it to require qualifications from selection committee members.

BGR plans to roll out future survey results on the City Council races.

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