Just a week before the start of qualifying, New Orleans City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer announced unexpectedly Tuesday that she won’t run for a second term in District C. Her decision could in effect hand the council seat to the only other announced candidate, former Civil District Court Judge Nadine Ramsey.
In an interview, Palmer said she had still planned on running as recently as the Thanksgiving break but finally decided she wants to spend more time with her three daughters — ages 11 to 15 — before they’re old enough to leave for college.
“I appreciated when I first ran that this is a full-time job,” she said. “It’s more like a job and a half.”
Palmer said she has no definite plans for what she will do when her term ends in May, but she left the door open for jumping back into politics eventually. “One of my daughters said, ‘Well, Mom, why don’t you just wait four more years and you can run again and we’ll be in college?’ ” she said.
Palmer said her campaign’s polling showed she has a “very high” approval rating, and she brushed off any suggestions that she wanted to avoid a potentially challenging and divisive campaign.
With Palmer out, Ramsey is the only candidate so far to publicly announce that she will run in District C. Other candidates could still jump in before the formal qualifying period, which runs Dec. 11-13, but any newcomer will have only a brief window to raise money and gather support before the Feb. 1 primary.
Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, who has served the maximum two terms in one of the council’s at-large seats, could run again for her old district seat, but said Tuesday that she will not.
“I’ve served my time,” Clarkson said. “I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished.”
State Rep. Jeff Arnold, who ruled out making the District C race in October after months of speculation that he might run, said Tuesday that Palmer’s decision doesn’t mean he will reconsider. “Never say never,” Arnold said, but he emphasized that he already has accepted a promotion in his day job at First NBC Bank.
Whatever happens in the campaign, Palmer said she will remain as active as ever on the council for the next five months .
She mentioned there is still work to be done on rewriting the city’s comprehensive zoning ordinance, finding money to extend the Algiers bike path and dealing with some big pieces of blight in her district that haven’t been cleaned up.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “I’ve got five months left on the council, and my heart is in public service.”
Editors’s note: This story was changed Dec. 4 to delete a reference to the departure of Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer’s chief of staff, who resigned five months ago and has since been replaced.