From Superdome Usher to City Council Standout – The Winding Road of Jared Brossett

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While District D City Councilmember Jared Brossett leisurely watched Sunday’s Saints Domecoming in a comfortable, fully-catered Superdome suite, his early Saints game day experiences weren’t always as much fun. For years, Brossett – along with his mother Brenda and brother Elery – worked as game day ushers to help ends meet. 

Being an usher was Brossett’s first paying job and taught him valuable lessons about how to treat people. Now on the cusp of completing his second four year term on the New Orleans City Council, Brossett is running for City Council-At-Large, an open seat, against three worthy opponents – District C Councilmember Kristin Palmer, former State Senator J.P. Morrell and Xavier University academician Bart Everson. 

Brossett was born at Touro Infirmary on October 10, 1982 to a single mom who worked multiple jobs just to put food on the table. He was a member of the last graduating class of St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School and went on to then top-rated McDonogh #35 High School. “My mom was my inspiration toward public service. She worked a lot, so my teachers became my family,” said Brossett. 

He credits civics teacher, Ms. Cola, and world history teacher, W.B. Harris, for steering him to current events which motivated and attracted him. “I saw what government was able to do for people and I wanted to be involved,” Brossett explained. His motto quickly became “reach out and help somebody in any way you can.” 

While still in his freshman year at McDonogh #35, Brossett was also excited to meet President William Jefferson Clinton who was in New Orleans campaigning for re-election. Brossett had gone to the Woldenberg Park presidential rally with his aunt Linda Molezion where he struck up a conversation with a member of President Clinton’s Secret Service detail. The ensuing close-up photo of the wide-eyed teenager and the seasoned world leader was lost during Hurricane Katrina. “I took the picture out of the closet and put it on my bed and then forgot to take it with me.” It was never recovered.

Brossett got his first taste of politics by volunteering for Marc Morial in the 1998 race for mayor, another eye-opening experience. He had also grown up with the children of then District D Councilmember Marlin Gusman. While a political science major at Xavier University, Brossett pulled Gusman aside at a wedding reception and asked for an internship. After the internship was completed and Brossett graduated, he became Gusman’s permanent staff member handling constituency matters. Subsequently Gusman was elected Orleans Parish Sheriff and Brossett stayed on at City Hall with new District D Councilmember Cynthia Hedge Morrell. He eventually rose to become her chief of staff. 

Unbeknownst to many, Brossett had been contemplating a career in the Secret Service but then “pulled the trigger” to run for State Representative 97 when a special election was called. During those years at the Louisiana Legislative, Brossett advocated for women and the elderly and protected the homestead exemption. Brossett was elected to the New Orleans City Council representing District D in 2013 after Morrell left office due to term limits. 

Brossett has enjoyed many accomplishments as a district councilmember. As Chair of the Transportation and Airport Committee, Brossett had a bird’s eye view of the new $1 billion Armstrong International Airport. 

Brossett is also pleased with securing a $140 million storm water management grant for Gentilly. “Work done under this grant definitely slowed down flooding in Gentilly,” he said. Under the auspices of a community adaptation program supervised by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, hundreds of residents received funding for Individual projects including permeable driveways, rain gardens and bioswales.

Brossett chairs the Council’s powerful Budget Committee which is now tasked with monitoring the use of Hurricane Ida and American Rescue Plan funding. He was among the city officials who suggested several years ago that ratepayers could save money if Entergy joined MISO, the regional transmission system. 

Now Brossett is calling out Entergy for “siphoning” money from their operations and maintenance budgets which has also led to an unusual number of power outages in Council Districts D and E even on fair weather days. Brossett hopes that the Council’s investigation of Entergy will shed light on the company’s preparedness before the storm as well as their post-Ida performance.

He agrees that generators or solar panels may become a necessity for New Orleans households. “I believe that one of those two devices will become a household tool; a lifesaving back-up. It is inexcusable for Entergy not to have a system that is storm hardened. We have to do better,” Brossett said.  He believes that President Biden’s proposed infrastructure legislation – including funding for enhanced resilience of the electric grid due to extreme weather and natural disasters. “Louisiana needs its cut of that money,” Brossett declared. 

He wants to invest additional funding in early childhood education to provide more seats for young students. “There is a demand for more seats and the City Council has a moral obligation to help, ” Brossett explained. The Council originally allocated $700, then later an additional $1.5 million. Brossett said he led the efforts to arrange a state match for the city’s funding to provide for even more seats. He is currently working with early childhood education advocates to create a long-term funding stream which he expects to be on the ballot as a millage proposition in April, 2022. “It is my goal for every child to have an early childhood learning experience,” Brossett continued.   

Brossett also took the lead in creating the city’s first living wage law, the Equal Access to Employment Act. Under the law, all job classifications will increase to a minimum starting salary of $15 per hour and will be tied to inflation. ”I am looking forward to the upcoming budget cycle where we can address this priority,” he said.

Brossett is in favor of increasing the contract amounts for the city’s waste management companies as a way to increase salaries for workers. “We have to invest in the contracts themselves in order to pay more to hoppers and drivers.” He acknowledges that the city’s two primary vendors are picking up garbage from more households for which they are not currently being paid. Brossett was also instrumental in getting citizens a one-time $24 rebate on their sanitation bills due to inconsistent garbage collection.

Brossett admits that the city appears cleaner due to the recent work by contractors including the emergency teams, but “they are not doing a good enough job. Contractors have to do a better job and fully clean the streets of garbage and storm debris. They have to collect everything.” Brossett is pleased with the role that Waste Management’s transfer station has played.

Brossett is not convinced that the city needs its own landfill, rather than continuing to haul debris to River Birch landfill in Avondale, Louisiana. He would like to see the costs and potential benefits as well as suggestions as to where a state-of-the-art landfill could be constructed before making any decisions.

Regarding public safety, Brossett says New Orleans needs a “multi-pronged approach” that includes improvement in recruitment at colleges and universities, increase pay, vacation and sick leave and upgrade the benefits package. Brossett also wants to expand the use of cutting edge technology including more automatic license plate readers and more crime cameras at interstate entry and exit ramps.

He also favors the development of mental health patrol units similar to the Help Not Handcuffs program being supported by OPPRC.  

Brossett admits that to combat juvenile crime, its root causes must be attacked. “New Orleans must invest resources into the juvenile justice system and provide alternatives to incarceration including technical training, social programs and behavioral health interventions. We have invested some funds but we need to invest more,” he said. Brossett plans to utilize American Rescue Plan dollars to increase programming available through juvenile justice agencies. 

He is also a big supporter of the Functional Family Therapy Program that helps adolescents on probation and their families by providing a family therapist who can help create positive motivational change. Proven to reduce recidivism, the programs also discourage siblings from committing crime. 

Brossett says that the city administration needs to be “more aggressive” in order to increase the number of affordable housing units. He cites the examples of the Bell School Art Space and the new units it brought online as well as the redevelopment of the former Florida/Desire housing site into mixed income housing. 

The only council member that originally opposed short term rental (STR) legislation, he believes there are still too many units in operation. “The administration has to do a better job of enforcing the short term rental laws. We knew that STRs were going to change a neighborhood’s fabric. Who wants to live in a community where strangers come every weekend,” Brossett explained.  “STRs kill our neighborhoods and reduce our affordable housing stock. People just can’t afford to live in many neighborhoods.” 

Brossett also believes that New Orleans’ economy cannot continue to rely solely on tourism. “We must diversify the economy. We must invest in the biomedical corridor. We already have the most prestigious universities and medical institutions. We should not allow our research to be sold to other places,” he said. Brossett supports investing in projects like Lincoln Beach and the Six Flags site to create more entertainment venues beyond the French Quarter.       

Brossett has been extremely busy since Hurricane Ida struck. He has spent many days helping his constituents deal with FEMA, blue tarps, disaster food stamps and insurance issues. He has organized numerous meal distributions. He has urged President Biden to provide federal assistance to strengthen the New Orleans power grid and relieve ratepayers of recovery costs. He has asked the White House to forgive the remaining SBA loans from Hurricane Katrina. As part of enforcing a law he passed while a state legislator, Brossett is pushing to have gas stations equipped with the ability to switch to backup generator service in case of disasters. 

Brossett has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, United Teachers of New Orleans and Step Up For Action among others. Numerous business and civic leaders are also supporting Brossett.

In June 2020, Brossett was arrested for drunken driving when his city-owned SUV crossed the Elysian Fields neutral grounds and directly hit an oncoming vehicle driven by Chinese national Minghong Lin. Lin sustained non-life threatening injuries. The day following the wreck, Brossett checked into a rehabilitation facility and subsequently completed an outpatient treatment program. He is currently repaying the City on an installment plan for the cost of the SUV. 

In May, 2006 Brossett was previously arrested in Miami, Florida for a DUI. Per his agreement with the Florida courts, Brossett performed community service, completed a DUI education program, and attended a victim-impact panel as part of his probation.     

Brossett profusely apologized to the public and his family for the June 2020 incident and said that he was committing himself “to the hard work of becoming a better person.” Jared Brossett has been an elected official for 16 years. He was easily elected to district seats with the Louisiana Legislature and the City Council but performed poorly in a 2018 city-wide race for Clerk, Civil District Court.   

Are Orleans Parish voters ready to forgive Brossett and offer him another chance? Or do they consider Brossett no longer worthy to serve? Early voting begins October 30 and continues through November 6. Vote by mail ballots are still available for those who qualify. Election Day is November 13, 2021.  

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