New Orleans City Hall (Michael Isaac Stein/The Lens)

The New Orleans City Council on Thursday appointed Donna Glapion as interim councilwoman, taking over the at-large seat vacated by Jason Williams earlier this month when he took his new role as Orleans Parish District Attorney. Glapion is program manager for the nonprofit No Kid Hungry Louisiana, a former queen of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, a business owner and a member of the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee.

As Councilwoman Helena Moreno noted at Thursday’s council meeting, Glapion has also worked in City Hall before.

“Her very first job was as an administrative aid for at-large council member Dorthey Mae Taylor in the early 90s,” Moreno said. “And as we all know, Taylor has been the only African American woman to have ever held the at-large seat. Well, maybe until now.”

Williams had just under a year left in his term when he resigned the seat. Under city law, that allowed the council to replace him with an appointment. If there had been more than a year in his term, the law would have required a special election to replace him. 

Elections for all seven City Council seats, as well as the Mayor, will happen in October, with a runoff election in November. 

As an interim appointee, city law prohibits Glapion from running for the seat she now occupies this year. And in a short speech during Thursday’s meeting, Glapion said she wouldn’t seek election as a district council member, either.

“We know there’s myriad challenges to be faced but I assure you all and the people of New Orleans that I’m dedicated and prepared for the work,” she said. “When it ends I will not seek election for District E, but I will gladly return to life as a private citizen.”

The City Council had opened up an application period for residents to apply for the position on Jan. 11, the day Williams resigned his seat and was sworn in as DA. It received 55 applications overall when applications were closed on Jan. 20, Moreno said on Thursday. The City Council was working on a tight timeline — if they didn’t appoint anyone in 30 days, the power to make the appointment would have shifted to Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

The council was expected to hold a committee meeting on Tuesday to go through the list of 55 applicants. But that didn’t happen. Instead, City Council members were asked to submit motions for their preferred appointment.

According to Andrew Tuozzolo, chief of staff to Councilwoman Helena Moreno, only two motions were submitted — one for Glapion and another for Cary Grant. Grant is the recently retired, long-time city budget director and assistant chief administrative officer. 

Thursday’s City Council meeting agenda included motions to appoint both Glapion and Grant. But on Thursday, Grant withdrew his name from consideration in a letter to the City Council.

“I hoped that my thirty five plus years of service to the city and my extensive experience as the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for Budget would be of value, particularly during this time of economic crisis and uncertainty,” the letter said. “Since it has become clear that I do not have the support of the majority of the City Council, I am withdrawing my name from consideration.”

Michael Isaac Stein

Michael Isaac Stein covers New Orleans' cultural economy and local government for The Lens. Before joining the staff, he freelanced for The Lens as well as The Intercept, CityLab, The New Republic, and...