This voter education guide is published primarily as a resource and does not constitute an endorsement of any candidate or proposition by ANTIGRAVITY Magazine.
Welcome once again to your ANTIGRAVITY voter education for the December 11 election. For this runoff election, you will be choosing your next city councilmembers (for districts B, C, D, and E), sheriff, criminal district court clerk, as well as voting on several propositions. Most of what you’ll see here is a recap from our last guide—with pertinent developments included—except for the propositions.
We have published these guides since 2014—previously in collaboration with the New Orleans Harm Reduction Network and now under the ANTIGRAVITY banner. This guide was written by a team of five people, including ANTIGRAVITY editorial staff. We utilized national media, local media, and social media. Our research included but was not limited to public records, campaign finance reports, court filings, and real estate records.
Despite lacking faith in politicians or the political order, we create this document as a way to dissect and map power. We do not offer endorsements, but we do provide summaries, as this is a resource designed to aid and alleviate the work for you, dear reader. News relevant to this ballot will continue to break. We are but one resource, and we hope that you consult as many as possible before heading to the polls.
We suggest you bring a photo ID to the polls, but if you do not have one you can still cast a ballot by signing a voter affidavit which vouches for your identity.
If you have a disability, you are entitled to receive assistance to cast your vote. If your assigned polling place is not accessible, you can vote at the nearest polling place with the same ballot or at the Registrar of Voters Office.
The makeup of this ballot, including names of candidates and information about how, where, and when to register and vote is based on information provided by the Louisiana Secretary of State and the City of New Orleans website. For info on what your ballot looks like, as well as information about disability and voting, go to the SoS website, voterportal.sos.la.gov.
Marlin Gusman (Democrat)
Susan Hutson (Democrat)
No matter which way you look at this race, you will ultimately be electing one of the top cops for the city. The sheriff’s job is to oversee the day-to-day of jail operations, courtroom security, and executory process (the seizing of assets), as well as serving subpoenas. No matter how “progressively” one claims they can do the job, their job is still to run and maintain a jail.
That being said, one is more odious than the other. Marlin Gusman has been the sheriff since 2004 and is running for a fifth term, and his legacy is littered with failure and abuse. The prison still universally referred to as OPP has a long and notorious history of mistreatment and below subpar living conditions. Under Gusman’s watch, these conditions reached such a peak that there was federal intervention. In 2013, a federal judge called the prison “an indelible stain on the community,” and Gusman agreed to a federal consent decree requiring major changes. In 2016 Gusman essentially had control of the jail stripped from him, and a federally appointed “compliance director” assumed control—a position that was created when Gusman “failed to show adequate progress in meeting the provisions of a 2013 federal consent decree,” as The Lens reported. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leather, the former ANTIGRAVITY correspondent from inside OPP, described receiving very little information from Gusman.
Sheriff Gusman has often called for the facility to be expanded: In 2011, he pushed for a larger jail to replace OPP and later opposed a 1,438-bed cap for the jail facility, according to The Lens. He’s currently advocating for a controversial Phase III of the jail with an infirmary and mental health facilities. Gusman’s laundry list of civil rights complaints and abuses is extensive, and any search of him in any direction will lead you to something horrific he’s done or said. Many have sought his removal and he’s had massive amounts of litigation brought against him. After Katrina, under Gusman’s rule, people inside OPP were left in horrendous living conditions, and the American Civil Liberties Union collected over 1,000 statements that contradicted Gusman’s public statements on the matter.
Susan Hutson is being billed as the “progressive” alternative to beat Gusman. She was the Independent Police Monitor, heading an “independent, civilian police oversight agency” whose stated mission is to “improve police service to the community, citizen trust in the NOPD, and officer safety and working conditions.” Through it, you can file a complaint against NOPD, or commend them. The Independent Police Monitor was conceptualized in 2006 and was voted into the City Charter in 2008. Hutson has been endorsed by recently elected “progressive” DA Jason Williams (who already broke a campaign promise to never charge children as adults by doing exactly that). In an August Justice and Beyond forum, she stated, “You have to have everyone rowing in the same direction, progressively. I am that progressive candidate.” The PAC For Justice, which previously backed the “Flip the Bench” slate of progressive judges, is now supporting Hutson, and it’s pulled in more than $190,000 in contributions this election cycle, including from national progressive orgs and individual big money progressive donors. In response to the survey that we sent out, Hutson said that she supports the decriminalization of sex work, but “until the law is changed to decriminalize sex work, as the Sheriff, I will provide a safe environment inside the jail to protect these vulnerable individuals,” which seems like a lot of words to say, “I’m going to keep locking up sex workers.” The Gusman campaign has promoted a video implying that Hutson seeks to abolish the prison and give “no jail time” to “violent criminals.” However, if we can take anything from Williams’ stint so far, it’s that a prosecutor by any other name is still a prosecutor, and it would be naive to expect a sheriff to be any different. Neither will ever be truly progressive or on your side—there’s a reason many call for a complete abolition of the prison system.
SUMMARY: Hutson certainly appears better than Gusman, but wouldn’t anyone?
Clerk Criminal District Court
Austin Badon (Democrat)
Darren Lombard (Democrat)
Current Criminal District Court Clerk Arthur Morrell is retiring, so this position administering criminal court operations and local elections is up for grabs. The two candidates in the runoff are both already court clerks in the city courts on opposite sides of the Mississippi River.
Austin Badon is clerk in First City Court, which handles small civil suits and evictions on the East Bank, where he says he’s boosted efficiency, cut copying costs, and is developing an online records system. During the pandemic, Badon has frequently lamented the potential for a burst in evictions. But he’s repeatedly said he sympathizes with “both sides” of landlord-tenant fights—one press release we received from him about federal funds had the bolded, all-caps headline “GOOD NEWS: FUNDS FOR LANDLORDS COMING! SAID CLERK BADON”—and he confirmed in our candidate survey that he believes landlords and tenants have been equally hurt by the pandemic.
He was previously a state legislator, where he sponsored a controversial bill designed to make it easier for sex workers to be “hassled by the cops,” in his words, for soliciting business on the street. Critics said the bill could also criminalize panhandling and hitchhiking, which Badon countered by saying that people begging are often part of a “racket” and “paying their cellphone bills,” part of a long and tired tradition of deciding what expenses are and aren’t valid for poor people to incur.
In our candidate survey, he says he wants to see sex work remain illegal. “I do not support the decriminalization of sex work,” he told us. “I believe this is immoral and it has extremely far-reaching ramifications. I cannot support people selling their bodies. This country is seeing an increase in HIV cases as well as other STD’s, plus the impact on relationships can be detrimental. This is not the right thing to do.” Badon’s argument isn’t new or creative, nor is it based on facts. Criminalizing sex work only furthers a systemic culture of stigma, exploitation, and violence. As with the argument to legalize drugs, the data actually shows that decriminalizing sex work provides more protection for individuals, and helps reduce the spread of HIV and other transmittable diseases.
He also authored a bill requiring brain-dead pregnant people without a living will to be kept on life support until they give birth, regardless of their family’s wishes, as well as a bill to cut penalties for marijuana possession. Badon has long supported bills backing school vouchers, which use taxpayer money to send kids to private schools.
As court clerk, he’s said he’d upgrade computer systems, increase the number of voting precincts to make voting more accessible, and strive for faster election returns. He also wants to make the criminal record expungement process more efficient. Expungement lets people get old charges off their records so they can get jobs and otherwise avoid discrimination.
Darren Lombard is Austin Badon’s counterpart, as the clerk of Second City Court, which handles small civil suits and evictions on the Westbank side. He’s generally kept a lower profile during recent housing and eviction struggles.
Lombard previously served as deputy clerk under Morrell and has pointed to previous experience working on elections in that role. Like Badon, he also points to experience modernizing systems in his court, and says he wants to upgrade criminal court computers and make expungements easier to secure.
SUMMARY: Both candidates have experience as court clerks, but Lombard hasn’t publicly ranted about sex workers and beggars.
Councilmember District B
Jay H. Banks (Democrat)
Lesli Harris (Democrat)
District B includes the Central Business District, Central City, Broadmoor, the Garden District and Lower Garden District, and parts of Uptown.
Incumbent Jay Banks is a city politics power player both literally—he worked for Entergy, like many a Louisiana political figure, then later consulted for the City about regulating the utility; and figuratively—he’s held various offices in the influential Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD), been chairman of the board at the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club (where he was also once king), and a member of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation board. He’s also endorsed in the runoff by Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Banks made the news for a bizarre incident with perennial candidate Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste when he showed up at Batiste’s home during a Congressional race that saw Batiste among rivals to Banks’ ally Karen Carter Peterson. Banks reportedly said Noonie Man had made a strange call to Banks’ office and he was concerned about Batiste’s mental health, though he’s more recently declined to comment on the matter due to legal issues. Batiste, in turn, has said Banks threatened him and has since questioned why Banks wouldn’t have called in medical professionals instead of showing up himself.
When he hasn’t been providing impromptu mental health services, Banks has pushed for pro-affordable-housing legislation like the inclusionary zoning ordinance that encourages developers to set aside 10% of units for low-income residents, and limits on short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. Neither policy is anything close to a true fix for the city’s housing crisis: Housing advocates have essentially said the inclusionary zoning law came too late for the last pre-pandemic burst of housing construction, and STR regulations often go unenforced; but we guess they’re something, right?
Banks has also taken the coronavirus pandemic quite seriously, especially after losing a number of friends to COVID-19, and has worked to distribute masks and hand sanitizer and encourage people to get vaccinated.
Lawyer Lesli Harris has represented a variety of clients, including giving legal counsel to the Saints and the Pelicans and arguing on behalf of clients challenging Louisiana’s since-overturned law against same-sex marriage. More recently, she’s worked as chief of staff to the president of Loyola University and been a member and board official for a number of local nonprofits.
Harris leads her platform with the claim that “violent crime hasn’t been this bad since the 1990s.” Her definition of violent crime may also be broader than others: In our candidate survey, she equated stopping “looting” after Hurricane Ida with the “safety” of the community. She also credited NOPD with protecting mutual aid efforts after the storm, which is not supported by anything we’ve heard from any mutual aid providers or recipients, who in some cases said overblown official fears of crime in fact impeded their efforts.
“NOPD officers were equally impacted by the storm but still had to serve as first responders to ensure our community’s safety, including answering calls to deal with looting,” she wrote. “They also ensured that mutual aid food lines and distribution sites stayed safe.”
In response to the perceived crime situation, she wants to hire more cops and pay cops more—and also invest in job training and non-police responses for car crashes and mental health crises (something supported in at least some form by plenty of current councilmembers).
She supports an audit of Entergy’s management, with the possibility of municipalizing the utility or at least requiring the company to harden its systems, as well as improvements around road work and at the Sewerage & Water Board. She endorses trash “hoppers’ demands for a living wage and PPE” and “universal broadband” for the city, though it’s not clear exactly how she’d bring either about.
When it comes to housing, Harris wants assistance for low-income homeowners, the use of City properties for affordable housing and homeless shelters, and improved enforcement of short-term rental regulations.
SUMMARY: Banks is a local politician many New Orleanians will recognize. That is to say: a less-than-perfect incumbent. Still, at least he’s trying to solve the city’s housing woes instead of calling for more cops.
Councilmember District C
Stephanie Bridges (Democrat)
Freddie King III (Democrat)
District C includes the French Quarter, Marigny, and Bywater; as well as portions of the Treme, St. Claude, and St. Roch neighborhoods; and all of Algiers.
This seat is up for grabs since incumbent Kristin Gisleson Palmer ran for an at-large seat (losing to JP Morrell).
Stephanie Bridges is an attorney and the executive director of the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice, a decades-old organization “dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism.”
She pledges to “speak up for the marginalized” and fight for equitable housing, combat the gender pay gap, and push restorative justice. Her campaign materials don’t offer a lot of details, something we’ve noted when she’s run for office before. She also advocates “economic partnerships that lead to purposeful jobs & work” and turning New Orleans into a “Smart City”—a buzzword that often in practice means digital surveillance and dubious partnerships with Silicon Valley companies that often (fortunately?) don’t pan out.
An existing smart city proposal would potentially create a new internet service option for residents and upgrade streetlights to use less energy, as The Lens has reported, but it appears it would also add new surveillance cameras and sensors that could be used for traffic and parking enforcement, with the privacy details still to be worked out.
Freddie King III has won some big endorsements, including from U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, state Sen. Gary Carter (who won the seat when his uncle Troy went off to Congress), former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, and Gov. John Bel Edwards. He’s also endorsed by the local AFL-CIO, the United Teachers of New Orleans, and the Independent Women’s Organization.
An attorney, King previously worked as director of constituent services for Nadine Ramsey, who previously held the District C seat, and as a public defender.
Unsurprisingly for a candidate endorsed by so many establishment figures, he says the City isn’t ready to municipalize the electrical utility, but does say the council needs to hold Entergy accountable and that it shouldn’t raise rates to cover Ida damage.
His response to a question on our candidate survey about post-Ida police response was similarly wishy-washy. “I think that the police response was appropriate and that it is important we have officers protecting our community in a time of need like this,” he told us. “However, I do believe that clarity and concise communication are integral in such a time and our leaders could have done a better job communicating with the public in regards to looting as a result of Hurricane Ida. It all boils down to providing residents with the resources they need so they do not resort to looting.”
In a city where we’re quite familiar with having to boil down our basic resources, it’s disheartening to see so many candidates framing providing civic services from emergency food to kids’ activities as a means to prevent crime. And yes, King leads his online platform saying he’ll be “tackling violent crime,” though he doesn’t provide much detail on what this means.
His answers to our question on drug policy also left us scratching our heads. “Marijuana decriminalization was a common-sense step for our community to take in order to achieve true criminal justice reform,” he said. “However, the city council must hold NOPD accountable to follow the policies set forth by the council. There is absolutely no reason that New Orleanians should be taken into custody for marijuana possession. I am in favor of anything that makes our city safer like supervised injection sites. However, our city should first invest in the programs we currently have before introducing such a program. Diversion programs in our community need attention and investment.”
We like the idea of holding the NOPD accountable for really and truly not busting people for decriminalized drugs. But we don’t see much logic in putting more money into diversion programs, which are often basically probation without a guilty plea and less judicial oversight, before setting up places where people can more safely use drugs.
King also wouldn’t give us a straight answer when asked if he supports decriminalizing sex work, though he did give a shout-out to state Rep. Mandie Landry who has introduced legislation to do so. “I am proud to be supported by Representative Mandy [sic] Landry and will work with her to help protect the health and safety of sex workers and fighting against trafficking,” he told us. Landry hasn’t made an endorsement in this race.
Interestingly, part of King’s approach to handling the proliferation of Airbnbs is to allow more short term rentals in the Quarter, specifically on commercial parts of Decatur and N. Peters streets: “I believe in a capitalistic society, and I think you should have short-term rentals in commercial areas,” he said in a recent forum. Is this related to the campaign funding he got from donors that the DSA New Orleans voter guide—a document we heartily encourage you to consult—referred to as “the expected variety of French Quarter club owners and real estate law firms?” Only King can know for sure.
SUMMARY: It’s a disappointment that this race, where several candidates offered interesting ideas for change, came down to two candidates delivering ambiguous reformist platitudes.
Councilmember District D
Troy Glover (Democrat)
Eugene Green (Democrat)
District D includes parts of Mid City, Lakeview, Gentilly, and the St. Bernard neighborhood.
Troy Glover is the founder of the New Orleans Center for Employment Opportunities, which helps put formerly incarcerated people to work on projects around the city. He’s also the former head of the Faubourg St. Roch Improvement Association, where he worked with businesses to promote hiring men of color.
He says he’ll continue supporting minority-owned businesses and also backs “reforming money bail, reducing the jail population and fighting for criminal justice reform” and “working to understand & prevent crime,” which is a bit of fresh air compared to some other candidates’ emphasis on boosting policing. He also wants more funding for early childhood education, accessible and affordable housing, and fighting for a living wage.
Eugene Green is yet another candidate with a real estate background, heading a family owned real estate business.
He worked for the City under Mayor Marc Morial and also briefly worked as chief of staff for former Rep. William Jefferson, who ultimately went to prison on bribery charges.
Green has run for office in the past, including for Congress and City Council, and he’s sat on boards of various agencies and nonprofits. He says his priority is “making sure that residents feel safe,” and public safety is the largest part of his platform, including hiring more cops (but improving their training, something that experts and activists often say does limited good), better mental health services, and setting up a task force to collect community input on crime.
On public safety, which is the most detailed section of his campaign materials, Green also supports giving more information to community members about crime prevention tips like “increased lighting and camera use,” locking gates, and “not leaving guns in cars.” He also calls for bail reform, although he wants to supplement that with “increased utilization of ankle monitors,” an incarceration alternative that can still be quite punitive and expensive.
Green also didn’t quite answer the question of whether City workers should make more money when it was posed in a League of Women Voters survey. “I support our citizens having enhanced economic opportunities,” he said. “I do plan to study the city’s wage system to compare it to cost of living figures, inflation, and other variables to determine what moves can be made to improve income opportunities.”
SUMMARY: Troy Glover has plans to help the working people in the city and at least do something about mass incarceration, while Green remains devoted to policing and uncertain of the need to boost workers’ pay.
Councilmember District E
Cyndi Nguyen (Democrat)
Oliver M. Thomas (Democrat)
District E includes the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East
Incumbent Cyndi Nguyen has taken credit for supporting developments in the district, including a revitalized Holiday Inn on Chef Menteur Highway, the Lake Forest Tower senior housing apartments, and Optimus Entertainment, a family fun center, reported the Times-Picayune.
She’s called for moving City Hall to New Orleans East to continue revitalizing the area and said she’d like to see higher wages for City employees and contractors. She’s also advocated for the reopening of Lincoln Beach, the closed historically Black lakeshore area in the district, though some residents who’ve already been involved in cleanup efforts there have said her vision for the beach’s development doesn’t match their vision of its use for tranquil relaxation.
Nguyen, who came with her family from Vietnam fleeing the Communist government after the Vietnam War, previously founded and ran Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training (VIET), a nonprofit offering educational programs and other services to Vietnamese people in New Orleans.
Though Nguyen has praised the diversity of the district—which is majority Black but also has a sizable Vietnamese population—she did come under fire last year after saying in a Times-Picayune interview about economic development in the Lower Ninth Ward that residents liked “greasy fried chicken” places, echoing a stereotype about Black people’s food tastes. Nguyen apologized and said she simply meant to highlight that the area is a “food desert.”
Oliver Thomas previously represented District B on the City Council and later served as an at-large councilmember and appeared like a potential candidate for mayor. That seemingly came to an end in 2007, when he pled guilty to a federal bribery charge related to City contracts to run parking lots in the French Quarter and Marigny.
He’s said that was the result of a gambling addiction he’s recovered from, according to the Times-Picayune, telling the newspaper he’d like to come back and reinvigorate a City Council that wouldn’t just rubber-stamp mayoral decisions and would stand up to Entergy.
Like his rival, Thomas wants to spiff up infrastructure in the district. He says he’d also take on crime by “prioritiz[ing] public safety by addressing police presence to ensure a fair balance of officers to cover our neighborhoods and crime hot spots, implement aggressive youth programs that will give our youth opportunities, and institute a task force for conflict resolution in schools.”
Thomas has also hosted a morning talk show on WBOK radio and served as a consultant on “Jailbirds New Orleans,” the reality TV show that controversially filmed women incarcerated at the Orleans Parish jail. Thomas tried to advocate for the production after the Sheriff’s Office kicked film crews out of the jail last year, according to a report from The Lens. A variety of civil rights groups and groups that advocate for incarcerated people have criticized “Jailbirds” and Sheriff Marlin Gusman, calling on the City Council to hold hearings into the production.
SUMMARY: The race has come down to two candidates with City Council experience and few genuinely fresh ideas for this district, which includes many struggling areas of the city.
PW Prop. (Public Library) – 4 Mills – CC – 20 Yrs.
To continue the expiring ad valorem tax dedicated to support the operations of the New Orleans Public Library System, which was authorized by voters on November 4, 1986 through December 31, 2021, shall the City of New Orleans (the “City”) be authorized to levy a special tax not to exceed 4 mills (“Tax”) on all taxable property within the City for a period of twenty years (beginning on January 1, 2022 and expiring on December 31, 2041 with an estimated collection totaling $17,498,020 for an entire year if the full amount of the Tax approved herein is levied by the City) for the purposes of constructing, improving, maintaining and operating the New Orleans Public Library System, including the purchase of equipment therefor, title to which shall remain in the public, provided that a portion of the monies collected shall be remitted to certain state and statewide retirement systems in the manner required by law?
The New Orleans Public Library gets millions of dollars—about half its funding, according to The Lens—from a dedicated property tax which is set to expire at the end of the year. The library, like any institution, isn’t perfect, but it does a lot of good in the community.
In addition to providing books, magazines, DVDs, free museum passes, and cooking equipment to check out, the library is a place where kids and adults can come to socialize or study, where people with limited internet access can use a computer, print a document, or get online with their own devices, where people can pick up tax forms and get legal advice. Even if you can’t physically come to the library or are staying home out of COVID-19 caution, you can use the library to access e-books on your phone or tablet, download audiobooks, stream movies and instructional videos, access new and historic magazines and newspapers (as we often do in preparing these guides), or even request books by mail. The library is also home to the City Archives—another resource frequently used by contributors to this guide and plenty of other professional researchers and people simply curious about New Orleans history.
Last year, a set of rather confusing ballot measures backed by Mayor Cantrell would have shuffled around property tax revenue and cut about 40% of the library’s funding, even while officials claimed the propositions would have supported the libraries and other related causes like early childhood education. Voters said no, and the City came back with this improved proposal to keep the library’s funding essentially as-is for the next 20 years. A separate ballot measure next year would fund early childhood education.
Groups who campaigned against last year’s shell game propositions, like the Save Your NOLA Library coalition, have come out in favor of this provision. The New Orleans DSA, who (have we mentioned) put out a great voter guide of their own, are also encouraging people to support this measure.
It’s also worth noting that Gabriel Morley, the self-proclaimed “hippy” library director who supported last year’s ballot measures and put out misleading information about them despite the fact that they would have cut his own library’s budget, no longer heads NOPL. He announced his resignation a couple of hours after WWL-TV—where investigative reporter David Hammer has been on an anti-corruption tear lately—asked why he has a homestead exemption on a house in Hattiesburg when New Orleans ordinances require City employees to live in the city.
While we’ll have to keep an eye on who the mayor appoints next, it’s a relief that the hopefully renewed library funding will at least not be subject to the whims of Morley (who previously talked about making libraries more like Uber and Lyft).
SUMMARY: Yes, support the libraries, for real this time.
PW Prop. (Neighborhood Housing) – 0.91 Mills – CC – 20 Yrs.
Shall the City of New Orleans, Louisiana (“City”) be authorized to continue to levy a special tax of 0.91 mills on all property subject to taxation in the City (“Tax”), for a period of twenty years (beginning on January 1, 2022 and ending on December 31, 2041 with an estimated collection totaling $3,900,000 in the first year if the full amount of the Tax approved herein is levied by the City), to be deposited in, and used in accordance with the requirements of, the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund (City Code Sec. 70-415.1, et seq., as it may be amended from time to time) for the purpose of funding a comprehensive neighborhood housing improvement program and providing affordable housing in the City?
This is a continuation of an existing millage that is used to alleviate blight, provide assistance for homeownership, and fund affordable housing. This fund also helped with rental assistance during the pandemic. The millage “generates between $3 million and $4 million every year for the city’s Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund,” according to The Lens. According to NOLA.com, the millage had “traditionally been used to pay for code enforcement, supporting city inspectors and attorney costs in addressing blighted structures around the city.” But in 2015, the City Council—led by then-councilmember LaToya Cantrell—sharpened this millage’s purpose to more directly address home improvements for homeowners and create affordable housing units. But some say the language still isn’t sharp enough.
The Bureau of Governmental Research released a report that the City has not developed a clear enough spending plan to ensure that this money will be handled responsibly, saying “it leaves the public without a means of assessing whether the tax accomplished defined objectives and hold[s] the City responsible.” The report explains that because there is little accountability without spending objectives, it’s difficult to know if the appropriate amount of money is even being dedicated. They believe that the City should “adopt oversight, planning and evaluation practices” to make sure that the funds are going toward specific housing concerns in specific neighborhoods, while in the meantime receiving funds from short-term rental fees and “leverage other housing funding sources.”
The Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center (LFHAC) has expressed their support of the ballot measure, saying that it would be “particularly egregious to allow this funding to lapse for even a year.” They say that the flexibility of the fund is a plus, explaining that it can “quickly be repurposed or used to meet unexpected needs,” which is what happened during the pandemic.
SUMMARY: The lack of a clear spending plan doesn’t inspire enthusiastic confidence, but it seems worse to let this fund lapse at a time when housing is even more precarious than usual. Yes.
Huntington Park Subdivision Improvement District Proposition
Shall the City of New Orleans levy a special annual fee, to be called the Huntington Park Subdivision Improvement District Tax, on taxable real property situated within the boundaries of the Huntington Park Subdivision Improvement District, which is comprised of that area located between Morrison Road on the north, Crowder Boulevard on the west, Huntington Park Drive on the south, and both sides of Benson Court located next to the Benson Canal on the east, thus comprising all of the Huntington Park Subdivision, but said District shall not include property zoned and used as commercial property, in the amount of and not exceeding three hundred fifty dollars ($350) annually for a period of eight (8) years, beginning January 1, 2022 and ending December 31, 2029, which fee is estimated to generate approximately $44,450 annually, to be used exclusively to promote and encourage the beautification, security, and overall betterment of the Huntington Park Subdivision Improvement District, except a 1% City collection fee, and if used for additional law enforcement or security personnel and their services, such personnel and services shall be supplemental to and not in lieu of personnel and services provided by the New Orleans Police Department?
This tax applies only to homes in this subdivision in New Orleans East. It’s a little hard to tell exactly what the funds go to—the most recent financial statement we could find in state records was labeled as being from the Huntington Park Homeowners Association, not the Improvement District—and didn’t provide more detail on spending than “general expenses, utilities, vendors.” But that’s not necessarily a sign of anything nefarious: The Homeowners Association appoints the majority of the District board, according to City records, and it’s a very local agency with a pretty small budget.
Last time this District was in the news, the Times-Picayune reported that the funds went to things like pool and green area maintenance rather than security patrols.
SUMMARY: If you live in Huntington Park, you probably know better than we do whether you’re getting your money’s worth from this tax. And since it’s a small district, your vote can easily make a real difference.
Early voting began November 27 and runs through December 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is December 7 by 4:30 p.m.
The deadline for a registrar of voters to receive a voted absentee ballot is December 10 by 4:30 p.m. (other than military and overseas voters).
Saturday election voting hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
1300 Perdido Street 70112
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Chef Menteur Voting Machine Warehouse Site
8870 Chef Menteur Highway 70126
Lake Vista Community Center
6500 Spanish Fort Blvd. 70124
LSU Health Science Center (Lions Eye Building)
2020 Gravier St. 70112
1st Floor, Lions Eye Rm
Saturday, March 26, 2022
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