New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams’ brief flirtation with a gubernatorial run is over.
Williams announced in an email Thursday that he is not running for governor and is “100 percent focused on this city and committed to addressing the host of problems plaguing New Orleans.”
Earlier this month, Williams said he was toying with the idea of getting into the race after being contacted by people he said felt that the declared candidates were ignoring important topics like mental health care, the environment and education.
He repeated that criticism Thursday, saying people are “downright fearful” that the current gubernatorial field is “getting a pass.”
“We are emerging from a troubling eight years, where our current governor slashed everything important to our growth. We cannot afford more of the same,” said Williams, who is also frequently mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Mayor Mitch Landrieu in 2018.
“I believe that my efforts are best spent fighting for our city, in our city. We must hold this group of candidates accountable to address the real issues and take them to task if they choose to ignore this city, its relevance to the state and the values of its people.”
The gubernatorial field includes three Republicans — U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle — along with Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards. The primary is Oct. 24, with a runoff, if necessary, Nov. 21.
There had been speculation that if Williams ran, he would have split the Democratic vote, virtually ensuring an all-Republican runoff.
Day of Service still seeking volunteers
New Orleans’ Citywide Day of Service on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina can still use a few more pairs of helping hands.
About 4,000 more pairs.
The event has so far drawn commitments from about 6,000 people to participate in more than 100 volunteer projects across the city to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the flood, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Friday. The goal is to attract 10,000 volunteers to the daylong event.
Landrieu described the day of service on Friday in terms of the millions of volunteer hours that already have been put into the city’s recovery.
Those looking to participate can sign up at katrina10.org/serve/.
Congemi to challenge Roberts for Jeff seat
Former Kenner Mayor and Jefferson Parish Councilman Louis Congemi will run this fall for the office now held by at-large Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, Congemi announced Thursday. Roberts is seeking re-election to the seat.
Congemi said previously he would run for one of the Parish Council’s two at-large seats. His announcement Thursday confirmed which one.
Congemi’s announcement said he offers voters in the Oct. 24 primary “a strong record of progress and accomplishment,” and he charged that Roberts, a three-term councilman, had “abandoned” the concept of “politics for the people.”
Congemi, a 66-year-old Republican, was Kenner’s mayor from 1996 to 2003. He served on the Parish Council from 2004 to 2012 before term limits forced him off for a term. Congemi’s wife, Mildred, attempted to succeed him but dropped out ahead of the election.
Congemi — the brother of former Kenner police chief and current Causeway Police Chief Nick Congemi — enters the race for Roberts’ seat with a hefty campaign war chest. He reported having $265,299 in his campaign finance account in his most recent filing with the Louisiana Ethics Administration, which is from February.
In his announcement, Congemi said that as mayor he “led major expansions” in Kenner’s Laketown and Rivertown sections and also developed its city park. He also said he established a capital budget allowing for $20 million in infrastructure improvements and launched a beautification project credited with planting over 3,000 trees.
As a member of the Parish Council, Congemi said, he prioritized improving infrastructure and flood protection.
The other at-large council seat is held by Elton Lagasse, who is running for parish president against Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni in the October primary.
District 5 Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng is running for the at-large seat Lagasse is vacating.
Mike Thomas, John LaBruzzo and Jennifer Van Vrancken are seeking the Metairie-based district seat that Lee-Sheng is leaving.
Compiled by staff writers Jeff Adelson and Ramon Antonio Vargas