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Mayor Mitch Endorses Cynthia Willard-Lewis in City Council Race
by Dana Bialek
MARIGNY -- With the race for the vacant NOLA-wide seat on the City Council down to two candidates, it's time for political heavyweights to answer the age-old refrain: "Which side are you on?" For Mayor Mitch, that answer seemed to be borne in a past campaign of his own. At the New Orleans Healing Center's Cafe Istanbul, Landrieu stepped up to endorse former state senator Cynthia Willard-Lewis - a political ally who worked for him in 2006 - at an afternoon press conference celebrating the candidate, the Lord and the City.
The Mayor described Willard-Lewis, the fiery scion of a NOLA political legacy who served on the Council for most of last decade as a representative of District E, as “a woman of great faith and dogged determination.”
“It isn’t easy to go against the grain,” he said. Mayor Mitch invoked his own political past in explanation for his decision, adding that Willard-Lewis stood beside him and “sweat” in his first run at the office on Perdido Street.
With the April 21 runoff election fast approaching, it is time to return the favor.
“There is a new day for New Orleans,” said Landrieu. “We need to march toward that new day.”
For Landrieu, a vote for Willard-Lewis is the first step in that march. Willard-Lewis, too, is confident that she can work with the mayor to realize a greater New Orleans.
“We will do this. We will do this together,” said Willard Lewis.
Since endorsements favor one candidate over another, the Mayor's endorsement of Willard-Lewis is a rebuke of the other candidate in the race, current District B Councilwoman Stacy Head.
The importance of Landrieu's endorsement is underscored by the tight race. In last month's runoff, Head polled about eight percentage points higher than Willard-Lewis. But that was in a race that featured State Rep. Austin Badon, who, like Willard-Lewis, relies on a mostly African-American base and is headquartered in New Orleans East. Endorsements from Landrieu, who swept into City Hall in a landslide, and Congressman Cedric Richmond give Willard-Lewis a clear advantage in the battle for high-profile supporters.
Nevertheless, Head pulls a strong base from her home in Uptown New Orleans, and is running on the same kind of reformer platform that put her in office in 2006.
As the band (yes, this is New Orleans, there is always a band,) broke out in the familiar tune of Oh When The Saints Go Marching In, Willard-Lewis ended the conference with volume, spirit and optimism.
“The Saints will go marching in!” she said.
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