Early voting for New Orleans City Council, sheriff, library millage starts Saturday
By Ben Myers
November 26, 2021
Early voting in the Dec. 11 runoff elections for New Orleans City Council, Sheriff and Clerk of Criminal Court begins Saturday, and voters will also weigh in on tax propositions for the New Orleans Public Library and housing.
The highest-profile citywide race has Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman facing former independent police monitor Susan Hutson as he seeks to extend his tenure over the city’s jail. Gusman missed an outright reelection victory by taking 48% in a five-candidate primary field Nov. 13.
That has left him in a pitched battle with Hutson, who finished with 35% of the primary vote. Gusman has accused Hutson of being part of a “network of radical extremists,” while Hutson has bashed Gusman’s management of the beleaguered jail.
On the City Council, both at-large seats were decided during the primary election when at-large Councilmember Helena Moreno scored a commanding victory over her opponent and former state Sen. JP Morrell secured a majority of the vote in a four-way race. District A City Councilmember Joe Giarrusso also easily retained his seat while the four remaining district seats headed to runoffs.
Challengers forced two incumbent council members into the runoff, with political newcomer Lesli Harris taking on Jay Banks in District B and former council member Oliver Thomas vying with Cyndi Nguyen in District E.
Primary results indicate potentially tough races for the incumbents. Thomas, who is attempting a comeback after a 2007 bribery conviction, edged Nguyen 45% to 41%.
Banks bested Harris 45% to 37%, but another anti-Banks candidate, Rella Zapletal, scored 14%. With Cantrell endorsing Banks for a seat she once held, the election race will also be a test of her sway with the constituents who have known her the longest. Harris, meanwhile, boasts endorsements from District Attorney Jason Williams and U.S. Rep. Troy Carter.
Two other races are guaranteed to end with new faces on the council. District D pits political veteran Eugene Green against a nonprofit director and neighborhood activist, Troy Glover. Green garnered the most votes in the primary, netting 35% in a race with 14 candidates. But Glover has recently gathered momentum, with endorsements from Cantrell, Williams and several former primary foes.
District C is a battle between two lawyers, Freddie King and Stephanie Bridges. King, who came in first with 44% of the vote, has Cantrell’s backing, while Bridges is supported by former primary challengers and Women on the Move, a civic organization.
The clerks of two city courts are vying to replace retiring Criminal District Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell. Austin Badon of the First City Court took 43% of the primary vote, while Second City Court Clerk Darren Lombard edged into second place ahead of a third candidate, Patricia Boyd-Robertson, who endorsed Badon.
Also on the ballot are two 20-year property tax renewals, one for the New Orleans Public Library and the other for housing. The 4-mill library tax, which equates to roughly $50 per year on a $200,000 home, would generate about $17.5 million if levied at that rate. It is currently levied at 2.58 mills, which brings in about $11 million, or a little more than half the library’s revenue.
Good government watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research supports the library millage, but says it should continue to be levied at the current rate. BGR is against the 0.91-mill affordable housing tax, however, because it says the Cantrell administration has not put forth clear plans for using the revenue.
The housing tax, which amounts to $11.38 per year on a $200,000 house, would generate about $3.9 million annually.
Five early voting centers will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Dec. 4, with the exception of a one-day closure on Sunday, Nov. 28. The five locations are:
City Hall, 1300 Perdido St.
Algiers Courthouse, 225 Morgan St., Room 105
Voting machine warehouse, 8870 Chef Menteur Hwy.
Lake Vista Community Center, 6500 Spanish Fort Blvd., 2nd Floor
LSU Health Science Center, 2020 Gravier St., 1st Floor, Lions Eye Room
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