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Council At-Large Race 

  If the seven candidates for the two at-large City Council seats have been feeling overshadowed by the mayoral race, a Jan. 20 Press Club of New Orleans forum couldn't have soothed their egos. Fewer than 25 people showed up, and many of those were campaign aides. On the dais were current councilmembers Jackie Clarkson, Arnie Fielkow and Cynthia Willard-Lewis, as well as three newcomers: perennial candidate William "Poppa" Gant; Nolan Marshall, associate director of the nonprofit Common Ground; and chef Greg Sonnier. The three veterans stressed their accomplishments while the others did their best to make an impression. Marshall spoke knowledgeably about policy issues, while Sonnier stressed his concerns: making the city more permit- and business-friendly and encouraging cultural industries. (Sonnier also brought whimsy, wearing a suit accessorized by fleur-de-lis Crocs and handing out bumper stickers that read "VOTE FOR THE COOK: IT'S IMPORTANT.") But veteran candidate Gant got the biggest laugh with a philosophical close: "Let's face it," he told the small crowd. "My opportunity to be elected is not there, and I understand that." — Kevin Allman

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