Race to fill Dist. E council seat remains heated in home stretch - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Race to fill Dist. E council seat remains heated in home stretch

City Council with vacant District "E" seat City Council with vacant District "E" seat

New Orleans, La.—New Orleans East is a community still in recovery mode seven years after Hurricane Katrina, and Saturday voters in that community will make a big decision.  They will choose a new city councilman.

"We're going out every morning and in the afternoon and the response has been overwhelming and I feel great about it," said candidate Austin Badon, a Democratic State Representative who finished first in the general election on November 2.

 "We have enough resources to get to the end, we're going to win on election day," said candidate James Gray, an attorney, Democratic Party Loyalist and former Assistant District attorney in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

New Orleans East is part of Council District "E," as are the Desire Area and the Lower Ninth Ward.

Saturday's runoff election follows the resignation of then District "E" Councilman Jon Johnson, who resigned in disgrace after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

 "I'm ready to step in and continue my term as a public servant," said Badon of his desire to change his title to City Councilman.

 "I'm going to see to it that we get our fair share of what we should get from the city," said Gray.

 The campaign has not been without biting accusations from both camps.

 "This campaign has taken it to an all new low, my wife has been brought into the campaign, my home has been vandalized," said Badon.

 "I didn't attack his wife, not at all," stated Gray when asked about Badon's statement.

 Gray admits attacking Badon's record as a state lawmaker and said he too continues to weather attacks.

 "He lies about my residency even though he knew it was a frivolous lawsuit to challenge it, all the judges in the world said that I'm a resident out here," said Gray.

 Crime fighting is an area in which they agree.

 "We have to get more police protection out here and we have to base that protection in the lower nine," Gray said.

"Making sure that our police department is fully funded, we have a large number of officers who are available, they have the top training," said Badon.

 While many New Orleans East neighborhoods have recovered others have not and economic development remains a stubborn issue.

 "I've been working very diligently with Wal-Mart, but we have to get Lockheed Martin the Michoud Facility fully operational contracts," Badon stated.

 "I'm going to see to it that the hospital that's in the works happens, the Wal-Mart I'm going to see to it that it happens, I'm going to see to it that we have the upscale outlet mall at Six Flags," said Gray.

Gray, a Harvard educated lawyer is backed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Congressman Cedric Richmond, and the Times Picayune newspaper.

"I think that broad range of endorsements is evidence of a lot of people who've known me over a lot of years who know that I work hard, can be trusted," Gray told FOX 8 News.

Badon has weighty endorsements, as well.  He has the support of New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, interim District "E" Council Ernest Charbonnet, and the Alliance for Good Government among others.

"You hear a lot about elected officials making endorsements, but I have endorsements from the actual community leaders," said Badon.

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