State Rep. Helena Moreno

State Rep. Helena Moreno

State Rep. Helena Moreno defeated fellow Democratic lawmaker Joe Bouie as well as Kenneth Cutno on Saturday night to claim the Division 1 at-large New Orleans City Council seat being vacated by Stacy Head.

Moreno had 66 percent of the 76,052 votes cast in the low turnout race. 

Bouie, also a member of the state House of Representatives, ran second with 28 percent. The long shot Cutno — who's never held a political office despite running a few times — had 6 percent.

All three candidates are Democrats.

On the campaign trail, the 40-year-old Moreno locked up key endorsements, big donations and favorable poll numbers over Bouie, 70, and Cutno, 61.

The former television journalist and one-time candidate for Congress said she earned that support because of her ability to pass legislation since joining the state House in 2010.

She particularly touted her successful push to have the state pay for sexual assault testing, ending an earlier practice of billing victims. She also highlighted her work on another successful crime-fighting initiative: expand domestic violence protections to victims who do not share a child with or live with their attackers.

Moreno told voters she would prioritize resolving the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board crisis because business development and other loftier goals won't take flight with a basic service like drainage crippled. One specific idea she mentioned was possibly moving the quasi-independent Sewerage & Water Board under City Hall's direct oversight instead of splitting upkeep of the drainage system between two separate entities. 

On Saturday night, Moreno also mentioned prioritizing the needs of residents in impoverished neighborhoods such as the 9th Ward, New Orleans East and portions of the West Bank. She said she would pursue more businesses and aim to help reduce the number of blighted properties in those areas. 

"Those who have felt forgotten for so long — I want to put them toward the top of the list," Moreno told WWL-TV at her election night party. 

Moreno's race for the council seat Head will be term-limited out of on June 1 was relatively tame. Things only heated up in the last week of the race, when Bouie's campaign sent an email criticizing Moreno for awarding a Tulane University scholarship worth more than $150,000 to the son of her paid political consultant, Greg Buisson.

Moreno's response was to point out that Bouie gave his own Tulane scholarship to one student and then handed it to another before the first earned a degree.

However, rather then ramping up the rhetoric, Bouie largely disengaged, disowning the attack by saying he never authorized his campaign to send it. 

Bouie's camp explained the email had been developed and paid for by a source outside of the campaign. The first-term legislator did defend himself from Moreno's response by saying he merely reviews his scholarship allocations every year and then awards them to qualified applicants based on need. 

Moreno was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and lived in Texas before a job at WDSU-TV brought her to New Orleans. Aside from her careers at the station and in politics, she has also worked as a public relations consultant in New Orleans. 

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New Orleans City Council at-large Division 1 results on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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