Several people whose names are expected to appear on the Feb. 1 ballot are now holding their official campaign kickoffs, including Orleans Parish School Board President Ira Thomas, who has announced his intention to challenge Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman. Thomas made his announcement Dec. 5 at the Reserve of Orleans banquet hall in the 7th Ward. The other declared candidate in that race is former Sheriff Charles Foti, who held the office just before Gusman, while State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, says he may jump into the race next week.
New Orleans City Council Vice President Stacy Head, who holds one of the council’s two at-large seats, has scheduled a campaign kickoff announcement Dec. 7 at the Pavilion of Two Sisters in New Orleans City Park. Her only announced challenger to date is Eugene Green, a former chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson. Green announced last summer he would run for an at-large position.
Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer said earlier this week she would not be running for re-election in District C, a diverse district that covers Algiers, the French Quarter, the Faubourg Marigny, and parts of Mid-City and Bywater. That left the field wide open for the only formally declared candidate so far, former Judge Nadine Ramsey, who also ran for mayor in 2010. State Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, who was known to be considering the District C race, announced last month he would not be considering a run. Now, he says, “I never say never.”
A possible wild card is City Council President Jackie Clarkson, who is term-limited as an at-large candidate but who reportedly has received calls urging her to run in the wake of Palmer’s announcement. Clarkson was first elected to the council as a District C representative in 1990, but lost her bid for re-election in 1994 to Troy Carter, who bested Clarkson by fewer than 100 votes. She returned for a second time as District C representative from 2002 to 2006, then won her current at-large seat.
If Clarkson should change her mind about retirement — she is term limited in her at-large position — and jump into the race for District C, she would be an immediate frontrunner and inject a note of interest into a municipal ballot with few surprises so far.
Under the city’s new election law, candidates must declare for one of the two at-large council seats. With Clarkson leaving her at-large seat in the spring, most of the at-large contenders are expected to run for her soon-to-be-empty seat rather than challenge incumbent Head. Among those who have said they’re likely to enter the race: District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell (who is term limited out of her current position), former interim District E councilman Freddie Charbonnet, and defense attorney Jason Williams, who ran for district attorney in 2008.
Qualifying for all races is next week: Wednesday through Friday (Dec. 11-13). The primary is Feb. 1, 2014, with a runoff if necessary March 15, 2014.