Candidates for the State Senate District #4 election spoke to the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization during a candidates’ forum to discuss their goals for the upcoming election.
The three candidates for State Senate District #4 are Erich Caulfield, Joseph Swider and Rep. Wesley Bishop.
Each candidate began by giving a little background about themselves before addressing their goals they are focused on accomplishing if elected.
Rep. Wesley Bishop began by saying that has served in the State Senate representing District 99, which covers the Lower Ninth Ward, where was born and raised, and New Orleans East. He also represented District 101, which covered mainly New Orleans East prior to the redistricting of the city.
Bishop graduated from McDonogh 35 Senior High School, went to Southern University of New Orleans where he served as student body president, and then went to the University of Mississippi where he received his Master’s degree in public administration.
Bishop then went on to law school at Ohio State University and later became a graduate of Harvard University’s Institute for Education Management.
“I start all my presentations by saying that because it’s a long way from the Lower Ninth Ward to Harvard University and in that capacity it represents why I’m running for State Senate District 4,” Bishop said. “That’s because every young person in the city of New Orleans has the same opportunities that I’ve had from pre-school all the way to Harvard, and also to make sure that every adult has the honor to work hard, make a decent wage, be able to raise their families with honor, with dignity, and respect.”
Bishop touted some of the bills that he has worked on previously, including one called the Ninth Ward Redevelopment Act.
“That was simply this: there are 600 vacant lots in the city of New Orleans in the Lower Ninth Ward that nobody wanted to buy so it was difficult to try to attract schools, to attract churches, to attract businesses to that particular area, so some folks in the community came up with the idea to sell those lots for $100 a piece,” Bishop said.
The bill didn’t pass, but many of his colleagues voted for it, and he would fight for it again, he said.
“It got 41 percent of the vote from the entire state,” he said. “It didn’t pass but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do and next session we’re going to do it again because it is the right thing to do.”
Candidate Erich Caulfield said the most important thing that voters need to know is that he is his mother’s son, Audrey Caulfield.
“She was a nurse for more than forty years, took care of some of the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick people in South Louisiana,” Caulfield said. “That’s the woman who raised me; kindness, compassion, dedication to the people I see around me, that’s what’s in me and there’s nothing I can do about even if I wanted to and I don’t.”
Caulfield went on to say the he graduated with honors from Morehouse College, where he majored in physics and mathematics. He went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science. He served as student body president and now serves on the board of trustees.
Caulfield also explained that he worked for the White House for three years, one of them as a White House Fellow focusing on economic development and the other two years working in New Orleans as a part of the White House Cities, Strong Communities Initiative. In that role, he led a team of employees from federal agencies that created $4 million in construction jobs, helped to fix some of the city’s streets, reduced the amount of time psychiatric care patients wait in emergency rooms and found homes for about 70 homeless New Orleans residents.
“Ladies and gentlemen of Mid-City, that is why I went into government, to get things done for the people that I see every single day,” Caulfield said. “And the reason why I am running for this race is an extension of that; is to be able to serve the people that I see.”
Caulfield said that he wanted to focus on issues that were personal to him.
“Economic development: we need jobs at all different income levels. We need more investments in higher education. Going to college changed the entire course of my life.”
Candidate Joseph Swider then went on to briefly introduce himself as a child psychiatrist and former U.S. veteran where he served as a combat medic. He explained that it is his first time running for a political position.
“I’m not a political insider, I’m actually a political outsider whose just come off the sidelines,” Swider said.
Swider said that he wants to focus on crime, fixing the city’s streets and education.
“Something’s that I would like to do as your state senator, in addition to trying to bring some fiscal sanity what I would also like to do is focus on safe streets, that means more police on the street, that means perhaps a state police troop dedicated to new Orleans,” he said. “I’d also like to look into changing a portion of our taxes that we pay that will go directly towards the improvement of our streets and our local neighborhoods.”
“Why should someone pay taxes and live in a million dollar home and have third world streets?” Swider said.