i’m a little late in posting this, as saints-fever kinda took over on sunday and i forgot to finish this post. but i’m gonna post it anyways, since there doesn’t seem to be any other coverage of this forum i can find online.
saturday, i attended my first mayoral forum.
i’ve followed many of them either on tv, on radio or via twitter, but this was the first one i managed to actually get to in person. entitled working families candidate forum, it was sponsored by several area non-profits, including: stand with dignity, the new orleans workers’ center for racial justice, and members of first grace united methodist church, where it was held.
the topics ranged from homelessness, affordable housing, local hiring, day laborers’ wage theft, nopd priorities, racial and economic equity and others.
only four candidates were in attendance: nadine ramsey, james perry, rob couhig and troy henry. mitch landrieu and john georges did not attend. (surprise, surprise.)
the first half of the forum was in a question and answer format, with questions coming from various community members and answers limited to two minutes each by the candidates. the production of the forum was kind of low-tech, with candidates having to share one microphone between them, and a spanish-language interpreter sitting in the pews translating rather loudly, which was distracting and made it hard to hear. (i’m supportive of the fact that there was a translator, but there needed to be a better way to do that so everyone could actually hear what was going on.)
i can’t say i heard anything new from any of the candidates, frankly; at this point in time, those who have been following the campaign season and forums/debates have pretty much heard it all from the candidates. the audience seemed almost asleep throughout the first half of it, with only james perry getting any applause or reaction out of the audience. when the format changed to a yes/no answer format, the crowd seemed to wake up and started clapping for every answer by every candidate that they agreed with.
my overall impression was that there wasn’t any clear “winner” amongst the candidates. certainly perry was well-known by many there, as the head of new orleans’s fair housing organization, and his answers were largely in line with what the audience was hoping to hear. surprisingly at least to me, so were nadine ramsey’s, and many of troy henry’s, as well. and while rob couhig should at least be commended for showing up – his republican core values not very much in line with this audience’s – much of what he said could probably be categorized in the “pandering” department.
henry and couhig also spent a lot of time taking swipes at landrieu in particular for not being there, and a few were lobbed in georges’ direction as well (particularly about him having to pay volunteers to wave signs on street corners). couhig repeated a few times his favorite attack on landrieu, about how the taxpayers are footing the bill, paying his salary as lieutenant governor, so he can run for mayor. and even perry called them both out for being absent, when a question about race and equity was asked, saying that dialogues like this one were the first step to changing many issues that plague our city and that landrieu and georges should have been there to partake.
all in all, it seems it was one of the tamer mayoral forums that has happened. and as best as i can tell, there was no substantial coverage of it in the mainstream media, probably due to the fact that it happened on saturday afternoon, before the big saints playoff game. but i’m glad i went, and i hope i can make it to a few more before the election.
as for my personal opinion, i remain committed to the feeling that james perry best represents my own personal political views and vision for the future of the city, and i am satisfied he has enough managerial experience to pull off the position of mayor. i am not someone who believes you necessarily have to have political experience to be in politics, and frankly, i find the concept that he is not a career-politician refreshing. i do still have questions about how he thinks he can accomplish some of his goals, but i am willing to trust he can find a way and see what happens. i will absolutely be voting for perry in the election on february 6th. should it come to a run-off between landrieu and anyone but perry, i will vote for landrieu. but if it’s perry vs. landrieu, i will likely stick with perry. i don’t dislike mitch as a person, but i do think his lifetime in politics is more of a con than a pro, and i generally do not support the concept of political dynasties, even if they are democrats.
as for the other candidates, from the first time i saw troy henry speak, he seemed smarmy to me – and it’s only gotten worse through the campaign. it has been my experience in my lifetime that i am a very good judge of character and am almost always right when i have a gut feeling about someone, particularly negatively, and henry just gives me that “stay away from him” vibe. i don’t really need to say anything about rob couhig, except that he is a republican and that that is enough reason for me not to vote for him. he seems like a nice enough guy, but no. and please don’t even get me started on john georges; there are a million reasons why i don’t like him, but my one and only personal interaction with him was enough to cement the gut feelings i already had. (he basically “squatted” in my booth at the elysian fleas market in december with his body guards, and aggressively inserted himself in the middle of a transaction fae and i were trying to make, selling one of my handmade goods to a customer, to try to talk us into voting for him. he literally got up in fae’s face to try to engage her, even after she said she would not be voting for him. arrogant, ignorant and rude is how i would describe him based on that one interaction alone.) as for ramsey, i will say that i actually agreed with much of what she said at the forum on saturday, but her constant god and jesus references and reliance on faith-based communities for everything is just not for me. nothing inherently wrong with it, but too much jesus for me.
i’m sure i’ll have more to say on the mayoral race before the election, but this is a good start. and don’t forget, you can vote early until saturday if you are worried about not being able to vote on election day, what with all the mardi gras and super bowl hysteria.