Beginning in January, the New Orleans City Council will have five new members, after both incumbents running in Saturday’s runoff election were defeated by their challengers. 

In District B, incumbent Councilman Jay Banks lost to attorney Lesli Harris. And former City Councilman Oliver Thomas, who resigned from office more than a decade ago in the midst of a corruption scandal for which he would serve time in prison, bested incumbent District E Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen. 

In the two open seats, Freddie King won easily against Stephanie Bridges in District C, and Eugene Green just barely defeated Troy Glover in District D. 

The city’s three other City Council races were already finalized during the November primary election, when the candidates won outright by gaining more than 50 percent of the vote. At-large Councilwoman Helena Moreno and District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso — who will be the only sitting council members to return to their seats next year — both won handily in last month’s primary. Former state Sen. J.P. Morrell won an at-large seat last month.

Banks, a long-time leader in the Central City political group Black Organization for Leadership Development, or BOLD, will leave office after serving a single term, after losing to Harris, a political newcomer.

The race between the two became contentious as the election approached. Recently, Banks accused Harris of being a “puppet” of Bourbon Street clubs that donated to her campaign, and accused her of posting a sweet potato casserole recipe taken from and trying to pass it off as her “grandmother’s recipe.

The District E pitted incumbent Nguyen against Thomas, a very well-known political veteran. 

Nguyen was the city’s first Asian American City Council member when she first took office in 2018. As a City Councilwoman, Nguyen has focused on creating more economic development in eastern New Orleans, fighting illegal dumping and ensuring translation services are available to residents who don’t speak English. 

Thomas was first elected to a district council seat in 1994 and served two terms, then moved on to an at-large seat in 2002. He was reelected in 2006. But his second term was cut short in 2007 when he resigned from the council and pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from businessman Stan “Pampy” Barre. Thomas served over two years in prison as a result. After his release, Thomas worked as a political consultant and hosted a morning radio show program and WBOK.

The District C race was left without an incumbent when sitting District C Councilwoman Kristin Palmer decided to run for an at-large council seat instead of reelection to her district seat. She lost that election to Morrell last month. Seven candidates ran in November’s primary election.

King wasn’t able to secure an outright majority of votes in the November election, but he did win a large plurality with 44 percent of the vote. The second place candidate, Stephanie Bridges, only 16 percent of the vote. Bridges is an attorney and the executive director of the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting racism and bias. 

King is an attorney with his own private practice, and who previously worked as an Orleans Public Defender and an aid to former City Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey. He also sits on the board of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention Center. His priorities as a City Councilman, according to his website, will be fighting crime, reducing illegal dumping, creating more small business opportunities and fighting “the red tape at city hall” by amending the city’s permitting processes. 

In District D, incumbent Councilman Jared Brossett was term-limited and decided to take a shot at running for the at-large seat that Morrell ultimately won. Months before the election, Brossett was arrested on a DUI charge — his second as a City Councilman — and decided to suspend his campaign. 

The open District D seat attracted an even larger field of candidates than in District C with 14 candidates. The two top candidates in the November elections were Eugene Green with 35 percent of the vote and Troy Glover with 12 percent.

Of the two, Green had an advantage in terms of name recognition and local political experience. Green’s career in politics includes stints as an executive assistant to former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial and chief of staff to former-Congressman William Jefferson.

Glover, who is less than half Green’s age, doesn’t have the same political experience, but did serve as the head of the St. Roch Improvement Association. Despite the wide margin between Glover and Green in the primary, Glover received some high-profile endorsements, including Mayor LaToya Cantrell and District Attorney Jason Williams.

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...