Brossett Suspends His Campaign but Does Not Withdraw; His Votes Will Be Counted

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After being accused for the third time of driving under the influence (DUI), District D Councilmember Jared Brossett suspended his campaign for City Council At-Large Division 2. Brossett says was entering in-patient rehabilitation therapy and would complete his term on the City Council. 

“Today, I am suspending campaign activities, and I am going to enter an inpatient rehabilitation center for treatment. I have a disease. I want to get better. I know that I need help, and I will engage the professional help that I need to be my best self. I want to thank the many friends, family members, constituents and well-wishers who have reached out to me over the last 72 hours,” said Brossett.

“Your empathy and compassion have made me stronger, and I will heed the good advice I have received and focus on my health. Addiction is an illness. It is not a choice. No one would choose this. For me, my family and those I serve, I must prioritize rehabilitation. 

Aside from my personal rehabilitation, allow me to address my professional responsibilities. I will complete my term as Councilman for District D. Over the next few weeks, my staff will ensure continuity in constituent services, and upon my return, I will shepherd a smooth transition. With God’s grace, I will get well and hopefully serve you again,” Brossett continued.

What Brossett didn’t say is that by suspending his campaign rather than pulling out his votes will still be counted. Palmer and Brossett teamed up last week to endorse each other in an effort to squeeze votes from former state Senator J.P. Morrell and force him into a runoff. “It’s sad that Kristin would seek to use Jared’s personal health crisis for political gain. My thoughts and prayers go out to Jared and his family,” Morrell responded.

Brossett was thought to have spent much of Sunday at the annual Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club picnic where he may have consumed alcoholic beverages in the king’s tent. After Brossett’s June 2020 DUI arrest in which he wrecked a city-owned SUV and injured the driver of a Nissan Rogue, Brossett said he completed a six-week addiction treatment program as well as group therapy sessions. Though he claims to have remained sober, Brossett had frequently been seen at local bars.

Brossett was first arrested in 2006 at a Miami hotel when he allegedly was found asleep in the driver’s seat. Brossett said he only had been sitting in the driver’s seat but not driving the vehicle. 

Councilmember Kristin Palmer who swapped endorsements with Brossett last week said that she was “extremely sad” Brossett relapsed. “I have family members that suffer from addiction, and it’s hard to see someone who has dedicated his whole life to helping New Orleans struggle like this. Jared is going to get better. And I hope that while he’s in rehab, he’ll remember that there are thousands of people praying for him and wishing him well. And that includes me,” said Palmer.  

Former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro previously gave Brossett a free pass by recommending he participate in a diversionary program. Current DA Jason Williams has already stated he could invoke stiffer penalties. With two DUI arrests within the last two years, Brossett could be sentenced to time behind bars. Brossett is expected to appear before Criminal District Court Magistrate Bridgid Collins on Monday, October 25, at 3 p.m.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), formerly known as alcoholism, is a terrible disease that affects nearly 15 million American adults annually, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). A person with AUD cannot easily control their consumption of alcohol due to physical and emotional dependence. AUD is a chronic disease that can be successfully treated but not cured.

Results from NIAAA’s 2019 study on drug use and health reported that 85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime with 69.5 percent reported that they drank in the past year, and 54.9 percent reported that they drank in the past month. High-intensity drinking often occurs in New Orleans especially among leisure visitors.  

Drunk driving causes more than 10,000 deaths every year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Every day about 28 people die in drunk driving crashes.

Friends and colleagues like Councilmembers Helena Moreno and Donna Glapion recently urged Brossett to take the necessary steps to make himself well. Some believe Brossett never took to heart the need to totally abstain from alcohol for the rest of his life. People who suffer from AUD describe recovery as a live-long journey.

Brossett’s decision to seek inpatient rehabilitation speaks to the severity of his illness and commitment to rehabilitate. His treatment could include a customized in-patient alcohol addiction and care program complete with individual and group therapy. Like many AUD sufferers, Brossett could currently have mental health issues that would also need to be treated. 

Moreno has already replaced Brossett as chair of the Council’s Budget Committee. Brossett’s campaign was always a long shot. In addition to Palmer, other candidates still competing in the Division 2 race include former State Senator J.P. Morrell and Xavier University staffer Bart Everson. Early voting begins Saturday, October 30 and continues through Saturday, November 6. The primary election is Saturday, November 13.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Brossett withdrew from the City Council At-Large Division 2 race. Councilmember Jared Brossett merely suspended his campaign, thus allowing his votes to be counted. 

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