Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dale Atkins Not Running for D.A.

Posted By on Sat, Mar 1, 2008 at 12:27 AM

Civil Court Clerk Dale Atkins has made it official: she is not running for DA later this year. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I finalized it this past weekend,” Atkins tells GAMBIT WEEKLY.

She cited the demands of raising a 13-year-old child as her main reason for not running. Atkins is raising the daughter of her sister, who was killed years ago in a drive-by shooting. Another factor, she said, is her legislative mandate to oversee the merger of the city’s mortgage, conveyance and notarial archives offices into her clerk’s office at the end of this year. “I had to prepare an implementation plan by Jan. 1 of this year,” Atkins says. “I put a lot of time, along with others, into developing that plan. … After that, I just decided that the opportunity to be a part of this major change in the civil justice system, and to be able to fashion that plan in a manner that gives the public one-stop shopping with regard to property records, along with the chance to make some significant technical upgrades, is a challenge I want to complete.”

While New Orleans will elect a new DA in the fall, the next election for clerk doesn’t come up until February 2010 — the same time as the next mayor’s race. Moreover, the civil and criminal clerks offices will merge in May 2010.

Atkins’ decision no doubt prompted interim DA Keva Landrum-Johnson to announce last week that she might make the race after all — despite a widely reported commitment she was said to have made not to run in exchange for her interim appointment. No doubt Landrum-Johnson’s take on that alleged commitment will be the stuff of campaign fodder if she runs.

Meanwhile, Atkins’ decision also increases speculation that state appellate court Judge Leon Cannizzaro will make the race. Unlike announced candidate Ralph Capitelli, a former first assistant DA, and Landrum-Johnson, Cannizzaro cannot announce for a non-judicial office without first resigning his judgeship. He is expected to make a decision soon.

Other potential candidates are said to be veteran federal prosecutor Linda Bizzarro and former ad-hoc judge Jason Williams.

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