While the races are yet to be run in New Orleans' municipal elections, one thing is clear: the City Council will have an African-American majority for the first time since 2007. The seven-member council has had a white majority in recent years, but starting next May, at least four council members will be black — possibly five.
Based on voter registration and the candidates who qualified last week, the council seats from Districts B, D and E will be held by African-Americans, as will the at-large seat for Division 2. It's also possible that District C, which has a black majority voter registration, will be represented by an African-American.
Qualifying for the elections ended Dec. 13, with many familiar politicos filing to run — and a few surprises. The open primary is Feb. 1, 2014, with a runoff if necessary March 15.
Here's a closer look at who qualified for the major seats up for grabs:
• Mayor: Incumbent Mitch Landrieu qualified Dec. 11, as did Danatus King, president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP. King sent out a press release the day before, saying, "Contrary to recent media reports, Danatus N. King does have $750.00 to pay the fee to qualify to be a candidate for mayor of the City of New Orleans."
King denounced what he termed "the Tea Party voter suppression tactics that have been used this early in the race." King seemed to be referring to a Times-Picayune report that noted that his campaign filings didn't indicate he'd raised $750.
The race really heated up when Civil District Court Judge Michael Bagneris announced he was retiring from his judgeship to jump into the mayoral free-for-all. Bagneris qualified on Dec. 13 — and so did Manny "Chevrolet" Bruno, who will make his fourth run for mayor. (Bruno made unsuccessful, though entertaining, bids in 2002, 2006 and 2010.)
• Council District A: Incumbent Susan Guidry will face Republicans Drew Ward and Reid Stone (founder of marketing firm HERO|Farm) and Democrats David A. Capasso, Jason Coleman (of Coleman Cab Co.) and Stephen Gordon.
• Council District B: Incumbent LaToya Cantrell is seeking re-election.
• Council District C: Council President Jackie Clarkson, term-limited out of an at-large position, will be attempting to win the District C seat a third time. Clarkson got her political start as the District C councilmember in 1990; she won the seat again in 2002. She got into the race at the urging of Landrieu and others when incumbent Kristin Gisleson Palmer opted not to seek a second term. Former Civil Court Judge Nadine Ramsey, who ran for mayor in 2010, had announced earlier and qualified on Dec. 11, as did Clarkson. Also running are Carlos Williams and Eloise A. Williams. All four live in Algiers. Lourdes F. Moran, who was narrowly defeated in the race for the 4th District seat on the Orleans Parish School Board last year, qualified Dec. 13.
• Council District D: Incumbent Cynthia Hedge-Morrell is term-limited out of this seat. State Rep. Jared Brossett, who got his political start as a council aide to Hedge-Morrell, announced early and has drawn the support of Landrieu. Also running are Joseph Bouie, the former chancellor of Southern University New Orleans, and Dalton R. Savwoir Jr., who has run several times (unsuccessfully) for the state Legislature.
• Council District E: Incumbent James Gray II is seeking his first full term on the council after winning a special election a year ago. His major challenger is Cynthia Willard-Lewis, a former District E representative and former state legislator who endorsed Gray for the job last year. Willard-Lewis now opposes Gray but will not have the support of her longtime ally Landrieu, who told Gambit last week he is endorsing Gray. Andre Kelly, a staffer with former councilman Jon Johnson, qualified Dec. 13.
• Council At-Large Division 1: Incumbent Stacy Head will face Eugene Green, who worked in former Mayor Marc Morial's administration.
• Council At-Large Division 2: Hedge-Morrell is running for Clarkson's old seat against defense attorney Jason Williams and former interim District E Councilman Ernest "Freddie" Charbonnet. Williams is the son-in-law of former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy; he ran for district attorney in 2008, finishing third.
• Sheriff: Incumbent Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman will face off against former Sheriff Charles Foti, who served four years as state attorney general; Ira Thomas, president of the Orleans Parish School Board; and Quentin Brown, who ran for Council District B in 2006. Thomas ran for sheriff in 2004, when Foti vacated the office after nearly 30 years; Gusman won that special election.
• Assessor: Erroll Williams, who became New Orleans' first citywide assessor when he took office in 2011, is seeking re-election.
• Coroner: Incumbent Frank Minyard will once again face perennial candidate Dwight McKenna. The two men faced off in 2010, and McKenna produced one of the all-time memorable New Orleans TV political ads, portraying Minyard as a Dr. Frankenstein (complete with political consultant Bill Schultz as Igor) whom, the ad stated, sold body parts out of the coroner's office. Also qualifying: Vincent A. Culotta Jr. and Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Rouse.
• Clerk of Criminal District Court: Current Clerk Arthur Morrell seeks re-election. The New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation's Robbie Keen qualified Dec. 13.
• Clerk of Civil District Court: Incumbent Dale Atkins is seeking re-election.— KEVIN ALLMAN, ALEX WOODWARD & CLANCY DuBOS