Yet another candidate is hoping to capitalize on St. Tammany voters’ apparently simmering discontent with established politicians.
Longtime District Attorney Walter Reed chose not to run again last year in the face of an avalanche of criticism, and indicted Pearl River Mayor James Lavigne ran third in the primary in the fall, ending his decades in office.
Nelson Rivers, an attorney, has announced that he plans to run against parish Clerk of Court Malise Prieto, a five-term incumbent.
Though the election isn’t until Oct. 24, Rivers already has a Facebook page and is planning to send out a letter to potential supporters in the next few days, he said.
Not surprisingly, Prieto’s lengthy tenure is his first talking point. “We have a 20-year incumbent,” he said. “She wants a sixth term.”
Rivers’ wife is a former Clerk of Court’s Office employee who resigned last fall, and her experience spurred his candidacy, he said.
Prieto could be a formidable opponent. After earning fairly close wins in her first two elections, she has cruised to victory in the last three, winning 78 percent in 2003, running unopposed in 2007 and getting a whopping 82 percent in 2011.
But Rivers hopes voters will change course.
“I think I am already tapping into the anti-incumbent sentiment,” he said.. “When I discuss it with others, the one thing that comes up most is how long she’s been in office.”
Longtime journalist goes to work for DA
Warren Montgomery’s latest hire at the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office is not a lawyer but a journalist, Lisa Frazier Page, who starts work Monday as public information officer for the office.
She will report to Tony LeMon, head of the Civil Division and first assistant DA.
“In keeping with our goal of transparency to the public and the press, we believe the employment of Ms. Page ... will help fulfill that goal,’’ LeMon said.
Page also will be responsible for responding to public records requests, he said.
Page, a Slidell resident, was most recently the north shore community news editor for nola.com. She spent nearly 17 years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post after 10 years as a writer for The Times-Picayune.
A native of Bogalusa, she received a bachelor’s degree in English and mass communications from Dillard University and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She is the author of six books.
Montgomery, who ran on a platform of reform, has not made wholesale personnel changes to the office that was led for 30 years by Walter Reed. But he has made a number of hires since he was sworn in last month and has plucked staff members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office.
New panel to speak for cyclists, pedestrians
New Orleans city officials will get more input on how improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians with the creation of a new advisory board.
The City Council approved the creation of the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Advisory Committee on Thursday by a 6-0 vote. The group will be charged with making recommendations on streets, facilities and educational and traffic programs to accommodate people who are not driving.
Councilman Jared Brossett, chairman of the council’s Transportation Committee, proposed the new committee and said it was needed to bring in the expertise of community advocates and allow New Orleans to become friendlier to those on foot or on bike. And, he said, it will play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of those groups.
“One life is too much to lose whether you’re a biker, whether you’re a walker, whether you’re a motorist,” Brossett said. “Whatever your mode of transportation is, it should be respected.”
The committee will have 11 members, with the mayor and the seven council members each appointing one person. Appointees of the Department of Public Works, the City Planning Commission and the Regional Transit Authority will fill other seats.
New restaurant gets warm welcome to CBD
When they rolled Uptown earlier this month, the Krewe of Muses had a float mocking the influx of chain stores on Magazine Street. It was a big hit with the crowds, no surprise for a city that has been known to greet out-of-town businesses with skepticism and even disdain.
For City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, however, the interest of national businesses in the downtown areas of her district is something to be celebrated.
As the City Council on Thursday approved plans to build a 40,000-square-foot Dave & Buster’s restaurant at the top of a six-story building on what is now a parking lot at Poydras Street and Loyola Avenue, Cantrell cheered the fact that the casual-dining arcade chain is moving into the neighborhood.
“I’m very excited and very happy about the expansion of national retail in the city of New Orleans,” Cantrell said, noting the expansion of entertainment as well.
Plans for those types of projects in the Warehouse District and Central Business District are important as those neighborhoods become more residential, and the Dave & Buster’s “ties in nicely with the fabric” of the area, Cantrell said.
Compiled by staff writers Faimon A. Roberts III, Sara Pagones and Jeff Adelson