Last night I attended the New Orleans City Council At-Large candidate forum at Xavier.

Twelve of the thirteen candidates were there, Kimberly Butler being absent. There were nine rounds of questions, adding up to 117 mini-speeches. Candidates were limited to one minute in length in some cases and 30 seconds in others, and the limits were strictly enforced by turning off the microphone.

It’s a lot to digest, but I did keep score (like I did for a District B forum last year). At the end of each response, I gave each candidate a mark. If my impression was generally positive, they got a plus; if negative, they got a minus; I awarded a zero for responses that made no impression at all or was a mixed bag. I awarded a question mark if the response just left me scratching my head.

I tallied accordingly, adding point for each plus and subtracting for each minus.

Here’s the final scorecard:


TL  +-+00++++  5
VB  ++++00-+0  4
MS  ++0++00+0  5
TV  +++++++00  7
GR  00-++0+0?  2
JJ  0+0+0++0+  5
DF  ––––+-0+- -4
DB  0000+0++0  3
QB  ??+++-++?  4
JC  00+0-0-+0  0
KJ  +-+++00-+  3
CWL -?00++++0  3

If you’re not familiar with the candidates’ initials, here are their names: Thomas Lewis, Virginia Boulet, Malcolm Suber, Tommie Vassel, Gail Reimonenq, Joe Jones, Dyan French, Diana Bajoie, Quentin Brown, Jacquelyn Clarkson, Kaare Johnson, Cynthia Willard-Lewis.

The big surprise to me was what a good impression Vassel made. Lewis, Suber and Jones tied for second place, which is interesting given their very different styles. Only French got a negative score. She seemed almost incoherent at times.

It’s also interesting to note that Reimonenq got the only spontaneous applause of the evening when she was asked about District Attorney Eddie Jordan’s multi-million dollar fine. She said she understood that legally it’s the city’s obligation, but couldn’t help feel that Jordan should pay that money out of his own pocket. And the audience cheered.

You can read more about the candidates on the LWVNO website. And of course you’ll want to read Adrastos’ write-up of last week’s forum.

  1. I too was impressed by Vassel. I’d like to know more about his history and connections first, though.

    I was also impressed with Boulet. She’s sounding like a bulldog about the City Council standing up to the mayor.

    After all the hype, Quentin Brown was a big disappointment. He wasn’t funny, he wasn’t eccentric, all he did was bitch and moan about the admittedly ridiculously stringent time restrictions, and talk out of turn. How you behaved on the panel last night is a good indicator of how you’ll behave on the dais in council chambers, and Quentin’s a bratty child.

    Kaare only said “world class” once. Not even enough for a drinking game.

    I think the format was too restrictive. The 30-second rebuttals were almost useless, although they were good at shutting up Mama D, who can’t seem to say anything without a 25-second dramatic pause followed by “I live on North Dorgenois…” BZZZZ time’s up.

    I need to go back through my notes to remember highlights, but at this point I’m leaning Boulet, with a second of Lewis or Vassel, barring any last minute dirt that Karen can dig up on them. ;p

  2. I’m glad Vassel came off well. I didn’t make this forum, but I’ve been impressed with him in other settings. He’s probably too sensible to win. Norman Robinson did an even more restrictive forum with the candidates on Sunday, and I agree with Ray that Boulet has retracted her sellout.

    Lewis was our realtor when we moved here, and he sucked at that. Didn’t really do anything (we found our own house), and we almost got sued because of some timing issues that I thought he should have covered. That doesn’t say anything about his ability to be on council, but he hasn’t impressed me much yet.

    QB is nuts.

  3. The city council race is what is keeping me from early voting right now. I am working out the political implications of a vote for someone who can possibly make a runoff like Boulet versus the usual primary strategy of going with your gut. Or at very least a neighbor. And I guess that depends on who you think is likely to make a runoff. Is Willard Lewis a lock? Is Clarkson a sure bet (even though shes way down on my list with only Butler, Suber and French below, suffice it to say I’d vote for Quentin before Clarkson). Then you have given me something to think about with Vassel, sure he is connected but is he too close to Nagin who obviously needs several fires lit under him so he does his job.

    What I really want is someone who has seen all the squandered opportunity and potential of New Orleans and says “this, this is how we will be a great city again. This is how we make the world respect us again. Not just culturally but economically. This, this how we are going to have a prosperous community and not one plagued by poverty and despair. One that opens up opportunity rather than complacency. One that offers hope of a good job and a great life to a student who learns and studies and achieves. And encourages all students to learn, study and achieve.” I want a lot. But I’m willing to settle for someone who talks jobs instead of programs. Or at very least programs about getting people jobs. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

  4. The Council race is the only race I can not make up my mind about. I do know that most certainly it will be a runoff between Clarkson and CWL.

    But then again I thought Al Gore won the Presidential election. So what do I know.

    Many years ago a group of friends of mine registered as Ind. to vote for Ronald Reagan in the Primary cause we were sure he could not win the presidency and thus make way for a Democrat. Look at how that strategy worked out.

  5. This morning I watched the Loyola debate on television. I, too, am trying to get up to speed on the ground with the candidates to make some sort of educated decision. It is important.

    I, too was surprised by Vassel and I understand he is an accontant which would be a great asset on the City Council. I was gauging my points by who seemed to have a solid understanding of how our City Gov’t works and people who seemed to realize the importance of economic development at this point in the City’s recovery which was emphasized by Blakely’s sad reassessment of his goals this week.

    Vassel and Virginia Boulet got high scores with me on that criteria. Both were very solid on the duty of the Council and have a clear vision of the job.

    Suber failed when he answered the question regarding what his top priorities would be, I ix-neyed him completely on the rhetoric factor there.

    Jackie Clarkson she does have a good record is a genuine person who really does care about the City. Her experience would be valuable but we need fresh faces and I feel stongly about no repeats. I feel like she could serve the City Council in some periphery capacity as consultant or staff.

    Kimberly Nutjob just makes me mad, she pumped her experience as to recovery to the point of lying. I can’t believe she is even up there! She was hard to even stomach knowing her great failing to the City. Barf.

    CWL, with her preacher speek and her tight alliance with the Mayor makes me question her ability to actually work for the general populace. She can just keep busy with the issues in the East.

    Momma D. did not have a clue about City Council’s role in the larger picture but that was no surprise, and, yes, I found her basically incoherent and not answering the questions. QB is much the same but he’s really funny and did add a lot of humor to the debate.

    The others were marginal, with VB and TV up there, they simply didn’t make the cut.

    So, I am VB or TV at this point. Thankfully, with so many candidates, the Loyola debate was peppered with a number of yes/no questions.

    Too bad I can’t vote for you or Karen . . . that would make this much easier. I will stay tuned for more reader insight to help me decide.

  6. Laureen brings up a good point. It seems that many of the candidates have never watched, or attended a Council meeting. There seems to be no clue as to what happens there.

  7. I’ve just read some of the comments posted and wanted to respond about my candidacy and to say that I’m willing to answer any questions that you might have. I thank those that were impressed by my responses at the forums. I have a very keen knowledge of government and how it should work. I’ve been a CPA for over 26 years and I’m the immediate past president of the Society LA CPAs. So if you know a CPA, I think they can also attest to my leadership abilities. No one in the race can match my 11 years of Economic Development experience. I am the former CFO of the New Orleans Chamber and Metrovision. I was also appointed (volunteer) to the La Economic Development Corp. Board. I chaired the Board 7 of the 8 years that I served. We invested in existing businesses throughout the state and helped to creat new businesses.

    I think the Times Picayune’s endorsement (10/14/07) of me spelled out my campaign. The endorsement talked about my leadership skills, my CPA skills and my community service.

    I hope I can count on your vote and support on October 20, 2007.

    Thank you,

    Tommie

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