Two compete for Westwego council seat

District 2’s Munch wants mayoral post

For the first time in 30 years, Westwego’s District 2 residents will have someone new representing their interests as two political neophytes seek to replace long- time Councilman Ted Munch.

Al Kaiser and Johnny Nobles Jr. are seeking to take over a position Munch has held since the city was run by a police jury. Munch is running for mayor again and must surrender his council seat to obtain the position. Although neither candidate has any previous political experience, Nobles challenged Munch for the position four years ago.

Both men cite addressing Westwego’s aging infrastructure and shoring up the city’s finances as crucial goals for whoever represents District 2. Kaiser, who works for Coca Cola, touted his history of community involvement as proof that he understands what city residents needs. Kaiser is a member of the city’s fire company, sits on the Westwego Housing Authority’s arbitration council and is a member of the city’s historical society.

He noted that he’s been attending the city’s meetings for months and said that he knows the issues. That will make it easier for him to hit the ground running if elected, Kaiser said.

“You have to show up, and you have to know what the issues are,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s about the city. I’m not chasing a title.”

Kaiser said he decided to run for office after seeing how well the city performed during Hurricane Katrina and wanted to get more involved.

He believes the district’s next council member must figure out how to address long-standing drainage issues with an expected influx of state money, prevent blight problems from spreading and protect the city’s public safety departments.

“I believe they are our first line of defense in keeping our property values on the highest in Jefferson Parish,” said Kaiser, adding that his motto is that he would put the “we back in Westwego.”

But Nobles said his experience as an insurance agent and staff manager have prepared him for the position in ways that Kaiser can’t duplicate. When he ran against Munch, it was because he felt there needed to be change in the city after decades of the same recurring problems. The recent news that Westwego will be the first location in the state to try out a new package plant is a positive step, but there needs to be more done, he said.

“This is the same problem that we’ve been having for the past 20 years,” he said.

Nobles said he’s served as a union president and negotiated contracts. He understands how to make decisions, but he also understands how to work with a group, Nobles said. He has the flexibility with his job to be deeply involved in the city, and he wants the chance to work hard for residents.

“I’m a hands-on type of person,” Nobles said.