NOLA Council Wins White Majority

AP, November 18, 2007

A former councilwoman won an at-large seat on the New Orleans City Council on Saturday, creating the first white majority in more than two decades.

Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson defeated Cynthia Willard-Lewis, who is black, with 53 percent of the vote. With all votes counted, Clarkson won with 27,740 votes to Willard-Lewis’ 24,874.

Clarkson, 71, will take a seat vacated when councilman Oliver Thomas, who is black, resigned in August after pleading guilty to a bribery charge.

Analysts had said the race could set a baseline for the changing political landscape in a post-Hurricane Katrina city in which the gap between white and black voters is narrowing.

Blacks remain the majority but are now about 58 percent of the population, down from 67 percent before Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005.

Clarkson, a real estate agent who campaigned on a corruption-fighting platform, served terms on the council in the early 1990s and from 2002-06.

Her election creates the first white majority on the seven-member body since the mid-1980s, when blacks consolidated political gains that began in 1978 with the election of the city’s first black mayor, Ernest “Dutch” Morial.

New Orleans’ last white mayor was Moon Landrieu.

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