NEWORLEANS - Early voting for the Feb. 1 city elections in New Orleans ends Saturday at four locations across town, allowing voters to cast ballots for mayor, sheriff and city council races.
The early voting locations are City Hall, the Algiers Courthouse, the Chef Menteur Highway voting machine warehouse and a new location at the state's Regional Transportation Management Center, 10 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
The sites are open Saturday until 6 p.m.
With more and more voters choosing to cast early ballots, state and local officials touted the addition of the fourth facility in recent weeks.In some recent elections, early votes have accounted for 20 percent of the votes cast.
The mayor's race is the marquee item on the ballot, with incumbent Mitch Landrieu facing two challengers in his bid for a second term.Landrieu faces Judge Michael Bagneris, who resigned from the Civil District Court bench to run for mayor, and NAACP president Danatus King.
The race for sheriff pits incumbent Marlin Gusman against his predecessor, former sheriff and state attorney general Charles Foti, as well as two other challengers: school board member Ira Thomas and small business owner Quentin Brown.All three challengers have criticized Gusman for the operations of his office and conditions at Orleans Parish Prison.
Voters will also cast ballots for Orleans Parish coroner, with three candidates seeking to replace longtime coroner Dr. Frank Minyard, who dropped out of the race for re-election.Minyard's deputy coroner Jeffrey Rouse, as well as physicians Dwight McKenna and Vincent Culotta are the candidates remaining in the race.
City Council races will also draw attention, with two at-large races and four district races.For the first time, the at-large races are two distinct contests, for Division 1 and Division 2.In Division 1, incumbent Stacy Head faces challenger Eugene Green.In the other race, current District D council member Cynthia Hedge-Morrell is seeking an at-large post, along with challengers Jason Williams and Ernest 'Freddie' Charbonnet.
The District A race has four candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Susan Guidry: David Capasso, Jason Coleman, Stephen Gordon and Drew Ward. None has held political office before.
District B incumbent LaToya Cantrell was re-elected without opposition.
District C features current City Council at-large member Jackie Clarkson seeking a return to her former district seat, representing Algiers, the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny and Bywater/Holy Cross neighborhoods.She faces former judge Nadine Ramsey, former school board member Lourdes Moran, businessman Carlos Williams and activist Eloise Williams.
The District D seat is open, since term limits prevented Cynthia Hedge-Morrell from seeking re-election to the post.Her former aide, state Rep. Jared Brossett is running, along with former SUNO chancellor Joseph Bouie, and teacher and public relations professional Dalton Savwoir.
The District E race in New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward is a contest pitting incumbent James Gray against former councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis and newcomer Andre Kelly.
Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell also faces a challenge from political newcomer Robbie Keen, who has been critical of his performance in office and even worked inside the office, through a federal DNA program grant.