New Orleans mayoral debate

Overflow crowd at a New Orleans mayoral forum on Wednesday night

In the city of New Orleans, there are the visible signs of Election Day today: Posters and ads for candidates, activity at polling places and streetcorner canvassing. That's because voters will vote in a primary election, with runoffs if needed in November, to replace the term-limited Mayor Mitch Landrieu and elect a new City Council. No less than 18 candidates signed up for mayor, but a handful of them are considered viable, suggesting that a runoff will be necessary next month.

In much of the rest of the state, interest in this Election Day is pretty low. Nevertheless, the candidates and particularly tax propositions and constitutional amendments are important and deserve voters' attention.

The statewide ballot includes a special election for the unexpired term of Treasurer John N. Kennedy, last year elected to the U.S. Senate. There are also three constitutional amendments on the ballot everywhere.

In the Baton Rouge and Acadiana areas, there is also a race for Public Service Commission, to fill the unexpired term of Scott Angelle, who took a post with the Trump administration. And in East Baton Rouge, there is a vacancy on City Court which must be filled.

Overall, outside of Orleans and Jefferson where there are higher-profile local races, turnout is expected to be low. We urge citizens to look to the Secretary of State's Office website to get information before going to the polls.

Our recommendations on several proposals on the ballot:

Constitutional Amendment 1. We urge voters to approve this amendment, which will resolve a dispute over taxation of building materials before a structure is complete and put into commerce.

Constitutional Amendment 2. While it sounds good, another property tax break is to be piled into a "feel good" list of those offered to veterans and first-responders or their families. The Legislature is thus giving away local governments' money but taking credit for supporting a popular cause. Our support and respect for veterans and first-responders should be better structured by the Legislature and we urge voters to reject this amendment.

Constitutional Amendment 3. Another feel-good proposal would add another "sub-fund" to the existing Transportation Trust Fund, but existing law is sufficient. A vote against this amendment would send a signal to legislators that real action is needed on transportation needs, rather than rhetoric.

Orleans Parish School Board: Three long-existing millages for schools are up for renewal and we urge voters to pass them. The Orleans system is in the midst of a historic transition, with charter schools — which benefit from these millages — returning to OPSB oversight. This is no time to cut back on school progress.