New Orleans, La. – The one-hour event sponsored by 10 organizations allowed brief explanations of what candidates considered their major priorities. Most ranked crime the major issue, and backed a national search for a new police chief. Many proposed boosting youth activities as a crime prevention method. Housing activist James Perry went a step further.
WDSU news anchor Norman Robinson later asked each candidate what they'd do about clearing blighted property. Some suggested adding funds to the city Redevelopment Authority and stricter enforcement of current codes. But businessman John Georges said he'd sidestep NORA entirely.
Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu said the state constitution must be changed to allow the city to resolve blighted properties quickly, and he'd press the city to be aggressive about getting owners to resolve problems.
Punctuating discussions of social issues and government solutions were some unorthodox ideas of the more marginal candidates. When store clerk and former candidate Manny "Chevrolet" Bruno was asked about his crime platform, he said:
Insurance salesman Jerry Jacobs repeatedly called on legalizing marijuana to raise taxes that would fund program to fight crime and other problems. Comedian Jonah Bascle said his main concern is accessibility, and has been battling for months for handicap access on the St. Charles Street line. He said running for mayor brings attention to the issue.
After the debate, audience member Deborah Cotton said she enjoyed the discussions.
Community activist Karen Gadbois said no one seemed a clear winner.
Democratic State Representative Jared Brossett of New Orleans attended on behalf of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. He said that campaigns will come into a sharper focus as the February 6th primary approaches.
The last day to register to vote in the election is January 6th. A runoff is scheduled for March 6th.
To listen to the entire debate, go to WWNO.org and click on the newsroom for an audio file of the entire debate at Xavier University.