A man undergoing hormone therapy to become a woman is one of three candidates attempting to unseat Donna Collins-Lewis for the Metro Council District 6 seat in the Nov. 6 election.
Home health nurse William Roundtree, radio personality Carolyn “Gee” George and retired corrections officer Edwin “PaPo” Del Valle have all qualified to run against Collins-Lewis, who is seeking her second term.
Roundtree, who is listed as a male on the Secretary of State’s election website, said he is undergoing hormone therapy with the goal of becoming a woman.
“I have been undergoing hormone therapy for one-and-a-half years,” Roundtree said.
Roundtree said his personal life shouldn’t impact how people vote.
“Louisiana is very conservative; I do see it impacting it a little,” Roundtree said. “At the same time, I feel the citizens pay more attention to what the politicians have to say than what they look like.”
All the candidates said crime reduction and improving infrastructure are top priorities.
“Right now, crime is out of control,” said Roundtree, who is running as a no-party candidate. “We have 100 cops sitting on the corner writing out traffic tickets and we have to pay more attention to what is going on.”
The problem was brought into sharp relief when Roundtree’s partner was shot during a home invasion.
“He was shot by a 17-year-old kid who was already wanted on warrants for armed robbery and kidnapping,” Roundtree said. The shooter “was not a police priority until he shot somebody.”
Crime prevention districts, which have helped in some cases, are not the solution for every area, Roundtree said.
“People can’t constantly keep dishing out more money for taxes to stay safe,” Roundtree said. “You have to decide who is going to get your money.”
Del Valle, a Democrat, said he would vote to put more police on the streets.
“We are 200 policemen short in this city,” he said. “They have not given the police chief the academies that he wanted to keep up his strength.”
The current force is overworked and overstressed, he said.
“They get to a scene, then they are running to the next one,” Del Valle said. “They have a dangerous job in the first place.”
Infrastructure must also be improved, Del Valle said.
“You got streets in my area that still have ditches and don’t have sidewalks,” he said.
Carolyn “Gee” George, a Democrat, said her desire to run for the District 6 seat came from her conviction that preventing crime starts in the home.
“My platform is embracing our youth and show them that drugs and crime are not the only route,” George said. “We have to have more opportunities for our youth.”
The Metro Council needs to take the lead in developing creative solutions to crime, she said.
“Obviously, nothing in place is working,” she said. “Let’s sit down and get a plan.”
Enhancing educational opportunities is key, she said.
“If college isn’t right for you, that’s okay,” she said. “Don’t let that hinder you.”
George also said she would favor more police and deputies on the street.
Collins-Lewis said she had focused on encouraging the residents of District 6 to cooperate, especially in neighborhood organizations.
“I have helped some dormant neighborhood associations reorganize,” she said. Civic associations in Broadmoor and Park Forest were strong she said.
“They keep the neighborhood clean, and report violations,” Collins-Lewis said. “Just inviting and engaging the community is going to help.”
“In Melrose East, there were a lot of issues related to crime and blight,” she said. “Then the Melrose East Civic Association formed.”
The neighborhood is much improved, she said.
Collins-Lewis, a Democrat, said her three-point plan for improving the district includes removing blight, improving infrastructure and enforcing building codes.
“We just don’t have enough enforcement officers,” she said.
The election will be held Nov. 6. If necessary, a runoff will be Dec. 8. Early voting is Tuesday through Oct. 30.