New Orleans — Early results Saturday night in the races for two City Council seats had LaToya Cantrell taking a lead over Dana Kaplan in District B, while James Gray came out in front of Austin Badon in District E.
With 70 of 81 precincts reporting at press time, Cantrell had 54 percent of the vote to Kaplan’s 46 percent, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State.
With only 13 of 57 precincts reporting at press time, Gray led Badon 60 to 40 percent.
While the race for District B featured political novices, each one collected backing from several key elected leaders, with Cantrell earning the coveted support of former District B and current Council President Stacy Head, while Kaplan got the endorsement of Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
The District B seat, which represents parts of parts of Uptown, Broadmoor, Central City, the Central Business District and Mid-City, opened in April when Head was elected to one of the two at-large positions vacated when Arnie Fielkow resigned to take a job with the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
Former state Sen. Diana Bajoie filled the seat on an interim basis.
Cantrell captured 39 percent of the ballots cast during the Nov. 6 primary, while Kaplan secured 31 percent of the vote.
The contest for District E, which includes most of eastern New Orleans, the 9th Ward and Desire, was the more heated of the two council races.
Badon attacked Gray about his residency, claiming the lawyer doesn’t live in the district because he has not repaired his eastern New Orleans home since Hurricane Katrina.
A judge ruled that Gray is legally domiciled in the district, allowing him to run.
Meanwhile, Gray went after Badon often, claiming the state representative was double dipping by collecting a pay check for his regular job at Southern University at New Orleans while out of state on business as a representative and getting paid a per diem for that work.
Badon has said even while out of town, he still does work as a SUNO official.
The District E seat opened unexpectedly this summer when former Councilman Jon John pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges related to a nonprofit he operated and resigned in the same day.
Attorney Ernest Charbonnet has filled the seat as an interim replacement.
Badon came close to winning the spot during the primary when he received 47 percent of ballots, while Gray followed with 30 percent of the vote.
The winners will take their offices as soon as the Louisiana Secretary of State confirms their victories.