Election results reflect racial shifts in New Orleans
For the first time in over two decades the New Orleans City Council has a white majority. Although the split between white and black voters is about 50-50, successful candidates pulled votes from both sides.
White candidates win key black-held seats
"Katrina rearranged the political deck in New Orleans," Xavier University pollster and sociologist Silas Lee said.
Never has the new dynamic been more in play than in Saturday's at-large race.
The Criminal District Court judge seat was won by a white candidate for the first time in years.
"In the future you're going to have to satisfy the entire city of New Orleans," said Lambert Boissiere, a former City Council member and state senator. "You can't just . . . satisfy one sector."
University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak said studies have shown that as the racial composition of a city's electorate approaches a 50-50 split, the political atmosphere tends to grow more contentious as the former majority group suddenly must share the stage.
"Since one group has been dominant for so long, they've just had their way politically, and now they're being challenged," he said. "No one likes to give up power."
Whether that angst will take hold in New Orleans will depend largely on whether newly elected leaders, particularly Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, who won the at-large seat on the New Orleans City Council, consider the needs of all residents when governing and forming alliances with other politicians.
"You may see candidates represent both sides better than they have in the past," Boissiere said. "Hopefully it will end some of the racial connotations on elections and you'll see people, black and white, start to represent both sides of the equation."
Times-Picayune story by Michelle Krupa, Nov. 19, 2007
Upcoming elections promise to be interesting, for a change.