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The Southern Yankee

Boston-Born Dan Ring Runs for New Orleans City Council District A

There are quite a number of contenders in the upcoming elections for Mayor of New Orleans and City positions, it’s sometimes hard to keep track. NoDef is here to help with our series highlighting the many candidates in this political showdown. Dan Ring is a rare candidate bringing a wealth of experience from the very depths of Boston politics in his bid for City Council District A on a community development-based platform. 


Ring’s experience began in Doyle’s Café is the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. The bar not only serves as the unofficial, off-the-record dealing house of Boston politics, but for lagniappe it’s also the first place Samuel Adams was put on tap. Ring admitted with a wink, “My dad always told me what you hear in the pub never leaves the door.”


Ring officially began his career when former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn recognized him as the son of a hard-working Massachusetts family on the campaign trail. Ring’s Boston accent is thick as he succinctly describes his first time encountering the man he would come to know well. “Your dad’s a hard worker. If you’re Mike’s son, you’re in,” Flynn said to him.


As Ring ascended through the Boston political ranks, he also got to know Tip O’Neill, the Democratic Speaker of the House under Ronald Reagan, among other leading political figures. Ring consistently sees hard work and care as tools to enhance power when attempting to overcome partisanship. “One of the things [Tip O’Neill] said is we all have got to hash it out,” Ring told NoDef. “We all have to give up something to get what we need. That’s politics. That’s the art of politics. I think a lot of politicians these days haven’t watched that art—how to get what you need on the other side of the aisle.”


He shares the story of a fellow Boston City Councilman enlisting in firefighter’s school so that he could help out in every feasible way. “He would be there with his firefighter’s hard hat on, helping them by holding the hose,” Ring remembered. “If he couldn’t do that he’d be making phone calls. If he couldn’t do that he’d be standing next to the family in the middle of the night because he recognized that these were his constituents, and their whole life was burning before their eyes.”


Ring sees it as a politician’s responsibility to work the extra hours when their constituents are working their hardest just to hold on to what they have, attributing much of political ignorance to constituents overburdened lives. “A lot of people don’t have the time to be educated enough,” the City Council candidate explained. “You know, a lot of people work a lot of hours so they end up listening to these soundbites as gospel. [...] You know, the problem is that a lot of local politicians think it’s just a nine-to-five.”


Ring, who works 40 hours a week in Houma and makes the commute five days a week, has been using a hard work ethic picked up in the Marines Amphibious unit to keep him going through the campaign. The political contender explained that on most nights he campaigns until after midnight, attending any City Council meeting he can, regardless of if it’s in his district or not. After that, he can be found at other community gatherings or even just local bars listening to the issues of as many of his potential constituents as possible. His schedule usually keeps him out until about one in the morning, and he claims that his job, which necessitates him to wake up at 4:30AM each morning, is not slowing him down. “The election is in October, and it’s now what—August? It’s really not that long of a stretch,” he mused. “And I actually enjoy it because I thrive off very little sleep.”


Ring’s vision of what a New Orleans politician should be might be just what this city needs — a figure who will assist their local firemen in the dead of the night; a politician who will answer their phone no matter when it rings; a person who will sacrifice both sleep and personal lives so that ordinary citizens can get to work making this city and their lives a better place. Ring believes that the issues need to be taken to Baton Rouge, where a plethora of regulations have been considered that would fly in the face of Landrieu’s affordable housing and economic development initiatives.


On the issue of affordable housing, Ring has said, “We need to go Baton Rouge as a City Council, as a district really. Mayor Landrieu, right now, is getting a lot of pushback at the state level. The state is pushing a lot of reforms that would hinder affordable housing. We need affordable housing in urban areas to allow people to have housing at their income level. They need to be able to, not necessarily to afford a house, but to afford a living space that’s within their means. The majority of people aren’t making a living wage in New Orleans, and the reforms being proposed in Baton Rouge affect the entire state. They’re doing it primarily because of what New Orleans wants to do. It’s hindering people from getting rental property they can afford, housing they can afford… By going to Baton Rouge, we can stop a lot of this short-term rental stuff that’s driving up the prices of housing, making it unaffordable for the average person."


"One of the things that made me leave Boston," Ring continued, "was the whole gentrification of certain neighborhoods. Not only did it take away the ability of people to live there, it took away the cultural history that that neighborhood lent to the overall city. That can happen here too if we let it. We can easily gentrify any neighborhood in the city just by excluding a certain group of people. One of the great things about diverse neighborhoods, is not only does it preserve the city culturally, it enhances citizens’ social standing, motivates them to keep moving up the ladder, and creates a city that is, overall, more self-sustainable, and less necessary on government leadership.”


Ring is presenting himself a tireless, blue-color city council candidate who wants to instill the type of community-based politics, and hard-working bipartisanship he saw in Boston. He might just have the means to do it.


Learn more about Dan Ring's campaign here

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