NEW ORLEANS — Qualifying for local and municipal elections is just over a week away, and in New Orleans, several City Council races are expected to be hotly contested. Each city election may be unique, but arguably the biggest issue that will likely be on the minds of New Orleans voters is one that has plagued the city for as long as any of us can remember.
“Crime, crime and crime. This is always the top issue in our quality-of-life survey,” said Ed Chervenak, political scientist at the University of New Orleans.
Chervenak predicts the race for an at-large City Council seat will be the one to watch this fall. Chervenak believes Council President Helena Moreno will easily retain her spot. Who assumes the one beside her is up for grabs. Chervenak says look for three names in that race: Kristin Gisleson Palmer (current Councilperson for District C), State Senator JP Morrell, and Jared Brossett (District D Councilperson).
“The Morrell name certainly carries a lot of weight in the city, and he’s got the experience as well as the name recognition. Palmer has been out there as well, in terms of this issue of moving City Hall into Municipal Auditorium, so that’s given her a lot of face time in the media. And for Jared Brossett unfortunately most of the media attention has been negative as a result of the video that came out when he got into that accident on Elysian Fields,” Chervenak said.
For more than a year, the pandemic dominated Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s first term in office. While some critics say her COVID restrictions were excessive and stifled the city’s economy, Chervenak says so far, that doesn’t seem to be a real threat to her second term. Chervenak says the pandemic may actually be a factor in that.
“The pandemic kind of froze everything in place, in terms of people getting their name out there, building up their name recognition, building a campaign finance account and raising money,” Chervenak said.
Chervenak says history shows incumbent mayors in New Orleans often win reelection, but we haven’t even reached the qualifying stage of the elections. Qualifying begins July 14, with the general election set for Nov. 13. That still leaves time for surprises.