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Virginia Blanque vs. Jay Batt 

  Another candidate is testing the waters for the New Orleans City Council seat representing District A, which is being vacated by Councilmember Shelley Midura. Virginia Blanque, a business owner, former vice president of the Mid-City Neighborhood Association and former director of constituent services for Councilman Arnie Fielkow, held a small get-together last Thursday at the Mid-City home of real estate agent Tracy Talbot to meet neighbors and answer questions about her plans. The only other announced candidate for the District A seat is businessman Jay Batt, who is, like Blanque, a Republican. Batt, who lost to Midura in a close election in 2006, has already announced his intention to run again, holding a women-focused cocktail party Uptown in September for what were termed the "Batt Girls" as well as a more recent event featuring his brother, actor Bryan Batt. At the official announcement of his candidacy last month, Batt was supported by several other GOP former council members, including Scott Shea, Bryan Wagner and Suzanne Haik Terrell. The seat was a GOP stronghold on the council for 26 years before Midura's election. To date, no Democrats have entered the race. The district encompasses a diverse slice of the city, including parts of Mid-City, Uptown, Carrollton and Lakeview. Blanque clearly wants to appeal to Democrats and centrist Republicans who found Batt unpalatable in the last election. "I want to build a bipartisan coalition," she told the Mid-City group, saying her priorities are fiscal responsibility, stronger action on blighted properties and an intense focus on constituent services. Blanque says she intends to make a formal announcement of candidacy Nov. 15 at Palmer Park. Qualifying for the seat closes Dec. 11, and the primary will be held Feb. 6. — Kevn Allman

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