Postponement of Election Is Good Short Term for Current Elected Officials

Today’s announcement by Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin that our fall elections will be slightly postponed due to Hurricane Ida was expected by many political insiders. The new dates are November 13, 2021 for the primary election (previously set for October 9) and December 11, 2021 for the general election (previously set for November 13). Early voting was scheduled to start in less than two weeks. Voters are displaced. Some polling locations suffered damages. Not all poll workers have made it back to the city. Postponing the election 30 days was the responsible choice for everyone involved.  

On the short term, this news is good for Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other incumbents who have been taking advantage of many current opportunities to speak at press conferences and participate in disaster assistance events including hot meals and tarp distribution. You might even run into your councilmember at a cooling center where you stopped in to charge your phone. 

While the current crop of elected officials have been making hay in the media, the many challengers have been struggling to get any attention. For example, Rella Zapletal appeared with shiny new shovels at a sandbag-filling event in Central City. Carlos Hornbrook was giving out t-shirts at the Howlin Wolf. Morgan Clevenger has been working with World Central Kitchen on disaster meals.

Of course the immediate focus is getting the city re-powered. But there will be many other challenges ahead that could sour voters against incumbents. Many New Orleanians have roof damage from the storm. How easy will it be to get those damages repaired? Will government aid really be available through FEMA or will New Orleanians – already heavily impacted by the pandemic be forced to foot the bill? 

How quickly will the economy get back up and running? Disaster unemployment is once again available but the rules are more stringent. Most people are tired of drawing unemployment. They want to work. The tourism business was just getting cranked back up but Ida slowed it right back down. Will tourists want to come to New Orleans while the city is slowly coming back?

Disaster food stamps are available, but also with a complicated enrollment process. Today 70,000 pounds of food to restock home refrigerators was available for give-away at Tad Gormley Stadium. People lined up hours in advance of the 2 p.m. start. By 2:15 the city informed the public that all the numbers had been assigned.

How much will our electric bills rise because Entergy wants to pass along the costs of rebuilding the grid? Some citizens are already tweeting that Entergy is not acting in good faith.

If the process of reopening the economy moves too slowly and costs citizens too much, those delayed election dates could open a short window for challengers to push the blame onto our current governmental leaders. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said today that New Orleans “avoided the horrors of another Hurricane Katrina.” Perhaps that is correct. But Ida has brought plenty of horrors of her own that could take a long time to heal from.     

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