Veteran city council members Jackie Clarkson and Cynthia Hedge Morrell were handily defeated by opponents, who have never served on the council.
In District C, former Judge Nadine Ramsey accumulated 59% of the vote against Clarkson, the current at-large council member. In the at-large race to replace Clarkson, attorney Jason Williams destroyed District D council member Hedge Morrell.
It is refreshing that support for council term limits among the electorate is still strong. Voters said no to Clarkson who was trying to move from an at large seat to a district seat and to Hedge Morrell, who was trying to move from a district seat to an at large seat. While these moves were technically allowed under the law, many voters saw the maneuvering as violations of the spirit of the two term council limit.
New Orleans is better served by an influx of new talent and new ideas. People serving over the course of decades tend to revert to outdated ways of solving both new problems that appear and old problems that continue to plague New Orleans.
Along with the losing council members, the other big loser in Saturday’s election was New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who vigorously supported both Clarkson and Hedge Morrell.
The Mayor will now have to contend with independent minded council members who won their seats despite opposition from Landrieu. They will take office owing the Mayor nothing in political terms and feel quite unconstrained to oppose his agenda if necessary.
In his first term, Landrieu ran roughshod over compliant council members; however, it seems it will be a much different second term. The council will remain all Democrat, but will contain three new members and will have a 5-2 African American majority for the first time since Katrina.
In his second term, Landrieu will be a lame duck, unable to run for another term as Mayor. Inevitably, the speculation will soon swirl about potential mayoral candidates in 2018.
At the top of the list is Stacy Head, who won an overwhelming victory for another term as Councilwoman at-large. With a healthy 68% winning vote total, new Councilman at large Jason Williams must also be considered a potential mayoral candidate.
Already there is speculation that U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) is considering a race for Mayor. Richmond was a major force behind Ramsey’s victory and worked to line up support for losing Coroner candidate Dr. Dwight McKenna.
There will be plenty of time before the next election, but in the meantime, voters should insist that the new council members work constructively with the administration and NOPD to address the ongoing crime crisis, the most dangerous and pressing problem facing New Orleans.