Second District Assessor Claude Mauberret has withdrawn from the March 6 runoff to become New Orleans first citywide assessor, saying the numbers are just not there and that he wanted to avoid a racially polarized runoff against Second District Assessor Erroll Williams. Mauberrets withdrawal automatically results in Williams election. Williams, who is black, has served as the Third District assessor since the mid-1980s. Mauberret, who is white, has represented the Second District for almost 16 years.
Williams finished first in the Feb. 6 primary with 45 percent of the vote, followed by Mauberret with 25.5 percent of the vote. Mauberret narrowly beat out deputy Sixth District Assessor Janis Lemle, who carried the reform mantle in that race and garnered 24.5 percent of the vote.
Since [the Feb. 6 primary], I have spent many hours reviewing precinct returns with my advisors and key supporters in an effort to chart a winning strategy, Mauberret said in a statement. After much deliberation, I have concluded that it would be in the best interests of my friends, my supporters, my family and my city not to contest the runoff. I do this with mixed feelings.
Assessor Erroll Williams has been a friend and colleague throughout my public career, and I did not look forward to a bruising campaign against someone for whom I have a great deal of personal and professional regard. Although my supporters encouraged me to soldier on, the reality is that the numbers are just not there for me to justify asking my family, my friends and my supporters to put forth the kind of effort required to win. In addition, despite the friendship that Erroll and I share, I fear that others would cast this election in racial terms and try to divide our citizens, who came together in unprecedented fashion on Feb. 6 across racial, geographic, party and socio-economic lines. I love my city too much to let anything threaten this historic time of unity.
Mauberret carried a plurality of the white vote in the primary, and Williams won a plurality of the African-American vote. Mauberrets statement echoes sentiments reflected by state Sen. Ed Murray when he withdrew from the mayors race in early January. Murray cited potential racial divisions in a runoff against Mitch Landrieu for his decision to drop out of the mayors race.