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.