Now that Oliver Thomas has resigned, the New Orleans City Council’s At-Large seat will be on the ballot October 20.
The question is, will we get any good candidates?
It’s been extremely flattering to have had my name bandied about on the radio, on blogs, and in e-mails. People have urged me to run.
I would seem to be an unlikely candidate, but that’s the whole point. I’ve long held to the belief that ordinary citizens should run for public office as often as possible. We should not concede the power of the state to a political class. And after all, I was contemplating a run for my City Council district seat just before the storm.
So the idea is kind of appealing. But it’s not gonna happen.
Of course, there are many reasons not to run for public office. I’m not sure I have the stomach for it. The timing’s not right. And there are a thousand other reasons.
But there’s one reason that trumps ’em all. When I mentioned the idea to Xy, she wouldn’t hear of it. “You’re gone too much as it is, and the house still isn’t done.” She has a point. Here we are two years after the fact with half our house still not ready for habitation. If our renovation was complete, I might have a little more support from the spouse. Without that spousal support, there’s really no point in contemplating the prospect.
If you wanted me to run, sorry to disappoint. You can blame my contractor. Or you can blame me.
So the question remains: Who will be in the running? The paper today indicates that Cynthia Willard-Lewis (City Council) and Tommie Vassel (Sewerage & Water Board) plan to enter the race. See my comments above regarding the dominance of a political class.
I remember Malik Rahim ran for the at-large seat in 2002. I was marginally involved with that campaign, and it was not nearly as well executed as it could have been. Malik got 3,664 votes, which was only 2% and put him in last place in a field of seven. Even so it was a surprisingly good show for a grassroots candidate with virtually no funds.
I haven’t heard anything about whether Malik plans another run at the seat, but it occurs to me that his credibility and profile could only be enhanced since he founded Common Ground in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Common Ground has grown to be a big organization which continues to have an enduring impact in the area. He’d still be a very long shot to actually win.
Speaking of grassroots candidates, Schroeder posted the following:
For the At-Large seat vacated by Thomas, I’m going to suggest Mary Queen of Vietnam’s Father Luke, the Hispanic-American Apostolate’s Martin Gutierrez, and Patricia Jones of the Lower Ninth Ward community association, NENA.
All three of these activists have excellent reputations for their work in the community. I’d support any one of them. But I’m afraid they’d have to be drafted, and who has the time to go out and twist reluctant arms?
This is why I believe it’s important to revive the Green Party of Louisiana, to create an alternative to politics as usual, a framework that makes it a little easier to run citizen candidates. The party only gained official ballot status a few weeks before the flooding of New Orleans, and it’s been dormant since. Hopefully the upcoming convention will begin that revival.