It's the start of another campaign season in New Orleans and the mayor's race is beginning to have a pulse. A few candidates have begun to distance themselves from the field in various fashions, but no one stands out as of yet. It appears the race may come down to which candidate can convey to the voters the simple message that he or she really wants to be mayor for a worthwhile reason.
Sounds simple, but this year candidates are going to have to do just that; New Orleans voters have been taken to the cleaners a too often. Since Katrina, voters have changed in New Orleans, they aren't into lip service anymore: they know a broken record when they hear one. So far the key words used by all the candidates have been economy and crime. Creating jobs and growing the economy in New Orleans will be a tall order, but so far, none of the candidates have produced anything specific on how they're going to do that . John Georges did allude to his ideas for developing and upgrading the tourism infrastructure in the city, his ideas are worth examining more closely, but the fact is, before he can really start to do all those good things, he's going to have to get the budget in working order, and that goes for any candidate. During the recently televised debate, Norman Roberts asked a question dealing with the city's budget, "How much is the city's current bond debt?" Not one of the candidates had the slightest idea.
Ed Murray seems well balanced. Not many innovative ideas or solutions to some of the city's problems yet, but he does give the impression he would be comfortable making executive-level decisions. If he can surround himself with some bright idea people in the next few weeks he would become a much more attractive candidate. He should announce those additions to his team; voters want to see teamwork in the next administration.
Mitch Landrieu seems to be suffering from "been there done that" disease, he just does not display the energy and charisma voters are looking for. That's somewhat understandable, given the fact he has been here before, but if he rally wants to make a good showing he's going to have to pick it up. New Orleans voters are not looking for a lackluster candidate, they want to be lifted up.
Troy Henry would be an interesting choice for mayor. He's well educated, right at that age where he's mature enough to make smart decisions, and has the energy and enthusiasm to follow through. The best thing he has going for him is the fact that he seems eager and appears to have the desire to make a difference. As far as creating jobs and being a great business executive, New Orleans voters are not going to buy into that all that much, if Barack Obama is having trouble creating jobs with all the financial wizards he has at his disposal, it's doubtful any candidate for New Orleans mayor will be able to either.
Most of the candidates are missing the big picture this year. Crime has taken a little bit of a vacation at the moment. Without going into details, it probably has something to do with the New Orleans Saints, people have something to look forward to. Crime may come back but for now people are a little happier with the Saints winning. The next mayor should be able to carry that excitement and buzz all the way until next season.
How can a candidate play off the Saints' success? Turn up the energy level. It is really hard to keep voters attention right now with the same lip service they hear during every New Orleans mayoral election,they see right through it. This is a new year, and New Orleans voters are smarter than they have ever been. A fancy suit, impressive resume, or name recognition won't win the race, "who wants it" will. Which candidate is ready to dive for loose balls, create fumbles, and score touch downs? New Orleans wants a mayor who can match the energy level and electricity of the saints this year.
It's still the first quarter and none of the candidates have scored yet!