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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEWORLEANS- There are seven hopefuls vying for the New Orleans Council-at-Large seat formerly held by Arnie Fielkow, who left several months ago to run the NBA Retired Players Association.

Three of the candidates already have good name recognition and experience holding elected office in the city.

Friday, New Orleans East State Representative Austin Badon spent part of his morning with a group of seniors at the Arthur Mondy Center in Algiers.

'What I'm asking the voters to do is to look at my qualifications and realize that I am qualified, number one,' said Badon. 'Also, as an African-American male who is qualified, I can represent all people.'

Former district councilmember, state rep and state senator Cynthia Willard-Lewis spent the day shoring up the labor vote at an event at Lakewood Country Club.

'I'm the only candidate in the race that served in both the state house as well as the local level of government and I am the only major candidate that has always advance the needs of the community first,' said Willard-Lewis.

Stacy Head spent the afternoon going over last minute logistics for her get out the vote campaign.

She wants to build on her successes as the current council member from District B.

'I think that the record I have speaks for itself,' said Head. 'If you look at the successes we've had in district B, a very, very diverse district. We have very affluent people. We have very poor people. We are very dense urban and we also have more residential neighborhoods.'

Head is the projected frontrunner.

'I'm very hopeful that I will win outright tomorrow,' said Head. 'All indications are that it could happen.'

But, Willard-Lewis and Badon may have the votes to push a close race into a runoff.

'We've had so many great friends and supporters from the AFL-CIO to more than 100 of our local ministers saying Cynthia Willard Lewis can get the job done,' said Willard-Lewis.

'What I'm asking people, let's go forward into the future,' said Badon. 'Let's not stay stagnant or go backwards. Let's go with someone who is qualified and has delivered and has demonstrated the capability to make our city grow and prosper.'

All three major candidate says public safety is their top priority.

'Real strategies that solve crime in all of our neighborhoods being the top focus,' said Willard-Lewis.

'There should be no question that every single public official who represents the city of New Orleans needs to have crime and crime reduction as their number one issue,' said Head.

'We have to get the violent crime problem under control because if we don't nothing else matters,' said Badon.

The other candidates in the council at-large race are William 'Poppa' Gant, Andrew Gressett, Gary Landrieu and Norbert Rome.

Voter turnout is expected to be low on Saturday, between 20 percent and 30 percent by some estimates.

That means just a couple hundred votes could make a big difference in the outcome of the race.

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