Voters in Orleans and Jefferson go to the polls Saturday (April 4) for a round of special elections. The hot race in Jefferson is the contest for a seat on the Parish Council from District 5. Jefferson voters also will decide the fate of two small millage propositions for transit services. In New Orleans, voters will choose three new judges — one at Juvenile Court, one at Traffic Court and one at Municipal Court — as well as a new state representative in House District 97. The Gambit takes no position in judicial contests because we have long believed judges should be appointed. Our recommendations in other races appear below. Above all, we urge everyone to take the time to vote on Saturday.
For Jefferson Council:
Lee—Sheng and Quinn
State Sen. Julie Quinn and forensic accountant Cynthia Lee-Sheng appear to be the two leading candidates among the four who seek the council seat vacated last year by Jennifer Sneed. Despite some sharp differences between them politically, we believe voters would be well served by electing either of them to the council.
Quinn brings years of governmental experience, first on the parish school board and then in the state Senate. Lee-Sheng brings law enforcement experience from her decade of service in the U.S. Justice Department and a sharp eye for budgets and balance sheets as a forensic CPA. Both are Republicans. Quinn has the party's official endorsement as well as that of the Alliance for Good Government. Lee-Sheng has the support of most of the parish's political leaders, including popular new Sheriff Newell Normand, who for many years served Lee-Sheng's father, the late Sheriff Harry Lee, as his second-in-command.
On the issues, Quinn opposes putting a proposed quarter-cent sales tax on the ballot. Her fiscal conservatism plays well in many parts of the district, and she is well-versed in the nuts and bolts of government, from drainage issues to funding. Her drawbacks include a dearth of endorsements from parish leaders who have worked with her over the years — and with whom she will have to work as a councilmember — as well as a somewhat messy personal life not entirely of her own making. If elected, she would sit on the council with her boyfriend, Councilman John Young, which may be too much drama (and too much political power in one relationship) for some.
Lee-Sheng says voters should decide the fate of the proposed sales tax, which was proposed by business leaders and would raise money for public safety. Her background in forensic accounting, coupled with a master's in public administration, will enable her to analyze complicated budgets quickly and effectively. Her drawbacks include never having held elective office before, although that's not always a bad thing. While she is schooled in the major areas of parish government, she will have a steep learning curve on the council. And while her support from parish politicos helped launch her campaign, it also raises the question of whether she will be too indebted to the political status quo.
Voters may find other things to like as well as criticize about both candidates, but in the end we think either would serve the parish well.
FOR Transit Millages
Jefferson voters also will be asked to renew two transit millages on Saturday. The millages — one for 2 mills and the other for 1 mill — were first approved in 1989. They were renewed 10 years ago and are up for renewal again this year. The 2-mill proposition would continue the parish's existing fixed-route transit lines, and the 1-mill item would fund transit service for mobility-impaired riders. We urge Jefferson voters to vote FOR both millages.
Brossett for State Rep
Six candidates are vying to succeed J.P. Morrell as state representative from House District 97. Morrell was elected to the state Senate in a special election in December. We recommend Jared Brossett as his successor. Brossett has worked in city government as an assistant to former Councilman (now Criminal Sheriff) Marlin Gusman and to current Council Member Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. He has the support of the Alliance for Good Government and most local elected officials — not because he is so well connected politically, but because he has the best grasp of the issues. We urge our readers in House District 97 to elect Jared Brossett on Saturday.