elections opinion politics recognition

Viewpoint: Who’s registered to vote in the fall elections?

Voters in the 12th Ward, part of Council District B, cast their ballots at McMain High School.

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With qualifying for New Orleans’ municipal elections about a month away, politicos are eyeing the party, gender and ethnic make-up of the city’s voters overall and in the individual City Council districts. 

A new analysis by seasoned demographer and consultant Greg Rigamer shows that there are currently 273,627 registered voters in Orleans Parish residing in 216,052 households. This includes 119,656 (43.7%) male voters and 153,681 (56.2%) female voters.

Of that total, 149,373 (54.6%) are Black; 99,821 (36.5%) are White; and 24,433 (8.9%) are registered as “other.” Democrats make up 64.2% (175,571) of the voters; “other party” 25.9% (70,748); and Republicans 10% (27,303). 

Council District A has the highest percentage of White voters, and Council District E has the highest percentage of Black voters. For the first time in recent years, the percentage of White voters in Council District B exceeds the percentage of Black voters.  

Almost 30% of the voters in both Council Districts A and B are registered as “other party,” above the local average. The highest percentage of voters who describe their race as “other” live in Council District A. The highest percentage of female voters reside in Council District E.   

Council District A’s 57,752 voters are 54.9% female, 69.3% White, 50.6% Democratic and reside in 45,469 households. In Council District B, 56,637 registered voters are 54.1% female, 47.2% White, 60.7% Democratic and live in 48,319 households. 

UPCOMING CANDIDATES KICKING OFF FUNDRAISING SEASON

With many businesses just starting to fully reopen, fundraising will be especially tight this season. There will be at least a dozen races on the ballot this fall. Candidates who don’t have significant personal funds or are unable to raise the dollars needed will be sitting on the sidelines.  

City Council at-large candidate J.P. Morrell has set his first fundraiser since announcing his candidacy on Tuesday (June 15) at Calcasieu. Before even sending out the first invitation, Morrell had already raised more than $130,000 from his major donors including hosts Bill Hammack, Russ Herman, Paul Flower, David Kerstein, Darleen Jacobs, Leslie Jacobs, Bill Hines, Walt Leger Jr. and Mary Zervigon.

District D Councilman Jared Brossett will kick off his campaign for the same council at-large seat Morrell is seeking on July 23 at Basin Street Station.      

Other upcoming fundraisers include a June 14 Flag Day celebration with Mayor LaToya Cantrell for Clerk of First City Court Austin Badon; the June 23 re-election campaign kickoff for District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso; a July 9 debt-reduction luncheon for Judge Omar Mason; and a June 16 reception for Clerk of Court Chelsey Richard Napoleon with special guest Mayor LaToya Cantrell at the home of attorney Geri Broussard Baloney. 

Earlier this week, Jeanne Nathan and Bob Tannen hosted a fundraiser for Cantrell at their Esplanade Ridge home.   

NORMA JANE SABISTON LEGACY FUND BEING CREATED AT GREATER NEW ORLEANS FOUNDATION 

Friends and colleagues of the late Norma Jane Sabiston who died of cancer in 2020 are raising $200,000 to create a living legacy in her name at the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Sabiston lived a life of leadership and service and was a trusted adviser to numerous elected officials and leaders of industry. She was also a mentor always willing to step up to give a young person new opportunities. 

The Norma Jane Sabiston Legacy Fund will distribute money to two very important causes in Sabiston’s life: the University of New Orleans and the Louisiana Youth Seminar.  Sabiston was a UNO graduate and dedicated much of her life to advancing the mission of the university. She was also former president of UNO’s International Alumni Association. A scholarship is being created in Sabiston’s name that will be awarded annually to a young alumna. 

The second program will create multiple scholarships for young men and women to attend the annual Louisiana Youth Seminar, a program dedicated to building the next generation of leaders for our state and the nation. 

“Norma Jane’s passion for leadership and her drive to make a difference always inspired me to be part of positive change. By supporting the Norma Jane Sabiston Legacy Fund I can play a part in ensuring that her life’s work continues to be a roadmap for many generations,” Mark Romig said.

Sabiston would have turned 66 on July 20th.  Donations can be made online here through the Greater New Orleans Foundation.  Checks (made payable to the Norma Jane Sabiston Legacy Fund) can also be mailed to 47 Fontainbleau Drive, New Orleans, LA 70125.   

COURT WATCH NOLA’S 2020 REPORT HIGHLIGHTS COURT SYSTEM IN NEED OF REPAIR

According to Court Watch NOLA‘s 2020 report “All Eyes on Justice,” it wasn’t easy being a judge, prosecutor, victim, witness or defendant during the pandemic. Many had trouble figuring out whether the courthouse was closed or open, if a courtroom’s Zoom connection was working or, during in-person sessions, if the person sitting next to them might have the virus. 

All in all, it was a dysfunctional year that only created extreme frustration and a bigger case backlog that will take many months to address. Go to courtwatchnola.org or here to read the entire report.  

Danae Columbus
Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be reached at swampednola@gmail.com.

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