Council hopefuls gather support

District B runoff on Dec. 8 ballot

New Orleans — The candidates for City Council District B each collected a number of new endorsements on Tuesday, days before they face each other in a runoff for the seat that represents parts of Uptown, Broadmoor, Central City, the Central Business District and Mid-City.

LaToya Cantrell picked up the endorsement of the former occupant of that seat when council President Stacy Head threw her support behind the civic activist and leader of the Broadmoor Improvement Association.

Dana Kaplan secured support from Donald Vallee, a former candidate in the District B race; state Sen. Danny Martiny; Orleans Parish School Board member Seth Bloom; and former City Council President Arnie Fielkow

Cantrell and Kaplan will face off when voters head to the polls Dec. 8 for a runoff election between the two women. Cantrell led the field of four candidates during the Nov. 6 primary, capturing 39 percent of the vote, while Kaplan came in second with 31 percent.

The two each hope to fill the district seat Head vacated when she was elected to Fielkow’s at-large position.

Head said that she has worked with Cantrell in her role as a neighborhood leader and that she has the qualities needed to be an effective councilwoman.

“Because I’ve been district council member for so long, it can be difficult to pass the torch to someone new, so that I can focus my energy citywide. But I feel absolute confidence that LaToya Cantrell is the right woman for this job,” Head said during a news conference at Midway Pizza on the Freret Street commercial corridor.

The stretch of Freret between Jefferson and Napoleon avenues has seen a renaissance since Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters inundated the neighborhood more than seven years ago. Head, as District B councilwoman, worked to bring back the street and said that Cantrell shares her vision of rehabilitating traditional commercial corridors, one of the others reasons she said she chose to endorse Cantrell.

Cantrell said that, if elected, she is ready to work with different groups of people to advance the district.

“If we work smart, if we work together and as a unit and as a coalition, I know that not only District B will be better, but the city of New Orleans will be better and will continue to have progress and uplift our people as they deserve,” Cantrell said.

Head joined others who have endorsed Cantrell, including former contender Eric Strachan, council members Kristin Palmer and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, state Sens. J.P. Morrell and Edwin Murray, and state Rep. Neil Abramson.

Head said that her delay in endorsing a candidate for her former seat was due to her “long-standing loyalty” to Strachan, her former chief of staff, and Cantrell and not wanting to support one over the other during the primary.

In endorsing Kaplan, Bloom said that she is a “unique candidate” because of her ability to unite.

“She is an independent bridge builder who brings people together to get big things done,” Bloom said.

Martiny said Kaplan, who is executive director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, has the knowledge necessary to improve the criminal justice system.

“She earned my support by being someone who could work across party lines and with all stakeholders to move public policy forward ,” Martiny said.

“I’ve listened to the people in our community and neighborhoods, and I’ve heard their voices,” Kaplan said. “They are ready for real change on the City Council.”

Kaplan previously has received the endorsement of several high-profile elected officials, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Rep. Cedric Richmond, Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Assessor Erroll Williams, former District B candidate Marlon “Buck” Horton and state Reps. Jared Brossett, Walt Leger and Helena Moreno.