new orleans city hall.jpg

New Orleans City Hall.

On Nov. 13, and in early voting beginning Saturday, New Orleans voters will elect City Council members to represent each of the city’s five districts. The Times-Picayune endorses these candidates:

District A: Joe Giarrusso. An attorney and former civic association president, Giarrusso brought a quality-of-life focus to the council during his first term. Giarrusso, who chairs the public works, sanitation and environment committee, has been an aggressive but fair-minded watchdog over the city’s infrastructure functions and the Sewerage & Water Board. He’s effectively advocated for his diverse constituents, including residents of the university area concerned over the disruptive “doubles to dorms” trend. Giarrusso’s platform for a second term includes improving contractor accountability and expanding regional cooperation.

District B: Jay Banks. Banks is a former council aide, and he understands the role the council plays in city government as well as any veteran. That has led him to focus on negotiating neighborhood-level land use issues, and to smartly shape a broad range of policies from the dais. Banks is an advocate of affordable housing, and counts his authorship of inclusionary zoning legislation to incentivize development of affordable units as his most important first term accomplishment. He currently chairs the criminal justice committee, and is working with judges to develop minimum standards for releasing people arrested for violent crimes to home monitoring.

District C: Freddie King III. In the large field of candidates for the seat being vacated by Kristin Gisleson Palmer, King, an attorney, has attracted a broad base of support, and we believe he’d be a thoughtful, effective council member. He’s worked as a public defender and aide to Palmer’s predecessor Nadine Ramsey, and has served on the board that oversees the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. If elected, King wants to increase penalties for illegal dumping and help the short-staffed New Orleans Police Department expand its pool of applicants by lowering the minimum age to qualify.

District D: Eugene Green. If elected from the crowded field of candidates who signed up to succeed term-limited Jared Brossett, Green would be a newcomer to elective office but not to the public sphere. He’s amassed a substantial resume in the real estate business and in government, where he worked on economic development under Mayor Marc Morial and served as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. William Jefferson and president of the New Orleans Regional Business Park. We think Green would be a steady hand, and would bring a business-minded perspective to the council along with valuable experience serving constituents and evaluating government operations. If elected, Green wants to help NOPD improve and to encourage development along Downman Road and in the Florida-Desire area.

District E: Cyndi Nguyen. Nguyen, a former non-profit leader, ran for council four years ago as an outsider but showed her grit in challenging and defeating the seat’s incumbent. In her first term, she’s learned her way around city government and established herself as a tireless advocate for her constituents. Representing the sprawling, perennially underserved district is a tough assignment, and Nguyen, who chairs the council’s special projects committee, has made progress on longstanding challenges, working to restrict new dollar stores, have abandoned cars towed, and install cameras to catch illegal dumpers. Economic development is a top concern in District E, and Nguyen’s priorities for a second term include reopening Lincoln Beach and working with the developers of the Bayou Phoenix complex at the old Six Flags site to bring jobs to the district.