One of the big winners Saturday did not have to campaign a lick. With the term-limited Ray Nagin re-elected, Council member at Large Oliver Thomas (who was re-elected in the primary last month) is the frontrunner, by far, to be the city’s next mayor. Thomas is popular, has across the board support, performed well during Katrina, has been a social activist as well as a politician, and has a reputation for being a thoroughly decent person. As the senior member of the council he will have plenty stroke in forgoing council policy. In ERROL LABORDE: Thoughts from the Electionthe early days of the Nagin administration Thomas was a reliable supporter of the mayor but later became disillusioned with Nagin’s handling of post- Katrina. Running for mayor is a thought that has crossed Thomas’ mind many times, but he has waited for the right time, The year 2010 will be that time,
My definition of journalism is “the pursuit of the truth” and I admire any journalists from anywhere who do that, but in the age of nightly cable talk shows the focus has changed to the pursuit of a good brawl. Under the pretense of journalism guys like Matthews are more concerned with fighting than enlightening. There’s nothing new about people exploiting the news; some radio talk show programs have been doing that for years. Fair enough, but don’t monkey with the electoral process as a devastated city goes about the serious business of selecting a mayor. Matthews’ bullying techniques may have created a sympathy factor for one candidate over the other and his irrelevant questions may have confused other issues. The local press as well as civic organizations proved to be quite adept at staging forums and developing issues without the intrusions of the Barnums of cable.
I have respect for Arnold Fielkow and wish him well in his new position as councilmember at large. For many voters that election was especially painful because there were two good candidates. Jackie Clarkson was not term limited in her District C council seat, but pre-Katrina, her chances to move up to an at-large position looked good. Than the world changed, and so did politics. During her time on the council she proved to be well- intended, honest and passionate about her district. Her energy, if it could have been harnessed, could have powered Algiers for a month. Political life needs people like Jackie Clarkson. We hope to see her in office again. By the way, because of term limits, there will be a vacancy next year in the West Bank State Seat.
Congratulations Mr. Mayor. Now, as you like to do, I am now going to go off-script. Oh-Oh:
I was not going to talk about this but this morning I got a call from a friend who lost her house in Lakeview to the flooding. She had found another place in New Orleans for her and her daughter to move to, but now that you are re-elected she is not sure. She had been a big fan and supporter of yours, but after the Chocolate City speech she became disillusioned. The tone of the speech seemed to be “us against them.” She might have been even more offended had she been a resident of “uptown” who the speech stereotyped as a bunch of bigots. To your credit, you apologized for your remarks and all might brave been forgotten and explained by the incredible stress you had been under, but then a couple of weeks later you said that “none of the candidates look like us” to a largely black audience in Houston. I mention this because during your victory speech Saturday you talked about an end to the bickering and the racial divisions, although it is your remarks that have been racially devisee.
I do not believe that you are racist nor that you intend to be polarizing. I also understand that a mayor is pulled in many directions including from ministers, some of whom are holy men, others who are political power mongers. I just think that there are more people who were hurt by your remarks than you realize, and some are not going to come back. Curiously, as a matter of politics, you did not need to say those things. We know now that you would have been re-elected anyway, likely by a higher margin, and possibly in the primary will less opposition.
Talking about ending the bickering and hoping for racial unity is easy, providing the atmosphere requires skill.
By the way, I urged my friend to move back to the city anyway, though she is still not certain. I told her that I was encouraged by reports that you were going to build a new administration, bring in different people, and create stability in City Hall. Things will get better, I told her.
Send us a sign, Mr. Mayor.
Just thinking about New Orleans
Errol Laborde
(504) 828-1380 ext 208