Not a Boys' Club

State Sen. Paulette Irons' bid to become the first woman mayor of New Orleans fell short in the Feb. 2 primary election. But three of her female colleagues from the Louisiana Legislature won seats on the New Orleans City Council -- one shy of a female majority-voting bloc on the seven-member body.

Cynthia Willard-Lewis, a former state representative, easily defeated one male opponent to win re-election to the District E council seat she won in a special election two years ago. State Rep. Rene Pratt defeated two male candidates to win an open District B council seat. And Rep. Jackie Clarkson topped five opponents to win back her old District C council seat.

"We all worked well together in the House," Willard-Lewis says of Clarkson and Pratt. "Now, we just need one of the 'boys' to go along with us," she adds with a laugh.

The four men on the council are at-large members Oliver Thomas and Eddie Sapir, District D councilman Marlin Gusman, and District A councilman Scott Shea, who faces a run-off March 2.

Stump the Singer

A campaign crowd of more than 500 women packed the Audubon Tea Room on Jan. 12 for Councilman-at-large Eddie Sapir's Women For Sapir Jazz Brunch and Fashion Show. Sapir received the expected round of applause from his supporters. But 9-year-old singer Leeza Lee alone received a standing ovation for her a cappella rendition of Whitney Houston's song "I Will Always Love You" and the finale "God Bless America."

"Eddie knew she would steal the show," says Sapir campaign spokesperson Denise Estopinal of Leeza.

Among past performers at local campaign rallies is Harry Connick Jr., who was 5 years old when he played at rallies for his dad, Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. Other campaigns in the Feb. 2 primary that possessed musical talent included Kenneth Bazile, candidate for City Council District B, who sings with the Holy Hill Gospel Singers, a St. Monica Catholic Church choir best known for its appearance on a WWL-TV "Spirit of Louisiana" commercial. And Warren Bell, communications director for the failed mayoral campaign of Councilman Troy Carter, is a veteran vocalist who has received favorable reviews from audiences at social functions sponsored by the Press Club of New Orleans.

A New Kind of Bookie

Emile Labat, a failed candidate for mayor and local funeral home owner, had an idea so bold and daring that none of the other 14 candidates in the race tried to steal it. If elected, Labat said he would encourage Harrah's Casino to leave its palatial gaming hall at the foot of Canal and re-locate to eastern New Orleans. Harrah's then could develop a worldwide family resort, including a 200-acre water park, an auto racetrack and golf course.

Labat offered no less than two new uses for the casino's Canal Street site. First, it could be an annex to the Dutch Morial Convention Center. He suggested it also could serve as a new main branch for the New Orleans Public Library. "Our main library sucks," says Labat, who finished eighth in the 15-candidate primary.