I was excited a few months ago about voting for the first time in a New Orleans election. And the feeling heightened every time I’d deface my Ray Nagin Coloring Book.
So I’ll just come out and say it: Leslie Jacobs was my first choice for mayor of New Orleans –– at least until she dropped out. After her departure, I leaned toward Ed Murray –– at least until he dropped out to avoid racial divisiveness. Now for the third time I need to consider my vote in what was shaping up to be a momentous election. Doesn’t it seem like the race has pinwheeled into an obvious contest of money and entitlement: Landrieu versus Georges?
Then again, what do I know? This is my foray into New Orleans politics. I don’t know much about the other candidates beyond what I’ve gleaned from their Web sites … which are chock-full of formulaic visions of what each candidate plans to do as mayor: fight crime, boost economic development, eradicate corruption, etc. They all promise to tackle the issues Nagin probably said he’d conquer way back when. How reassuring. Am I the only person who feels a tinge of cynicism at these contrived platform musings? Fiscal responsibility –– check. Transparency –– check. World peace –– check. “Anything you want to hear!” –– check-check.
Ideally, the next mayor of New Orleans will be one who can transcend the lure of corruption and curse of incompetence. But it seems there’s a cycle of inevitable disappointment when it comes to New Orleans politics. The standards have lowered so much that the index for success now seems to hover slightly above the “I’ll be better than Nagin” mark.
Maybe what New Orleans needs is a non-native for mayor: someone who doesn’t have to govern to special interests or college cronies, a candidate who is judged more by his record of competence and integrity than where he went to high school.
Perhaps down the line such a candidate will move to New Orleans, get involved on a community level –– not just a business level –– and stay here for five years to become eligible. Maybe he or she will fare better in office and give the city what it needs. Sure, lots of folks will argue that he or she won’t know and love the city like a native. But past decades of mayorship show that such a platform is usually just a smokescreen for a different agenda, as if one’s love for New Orleans justifies running an administration based on deceit, dishonesty and greed. I wouldn’t speak such blasphemy in the first place if the city could actually find a well-meaning, ethical inspector general.
Anyway, I’m curious to hear your opinions. What do you think of the candidates? Leslie Jacobs was a breath of fresh air in a stale pool of usual suspects: businessmen, both black and white. Now that she’s out I need to place my vote elsewhere … but I won’t cast it blindly.
If it comes down to it, I’ll vote for Errol Laborde.