New councilman for District E ready to take office - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

New councilman for District E ready to take office

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New Orleans, LA - Too excited to sleep Saturday night, now James Gray says he's too busy to rest following the election that put him on the New Orleans City Council.

Gray won the District E runoff, beating State Representative Austin Badon.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge," says Gray. "There are a lot of challenges in the district but the truth of the matter is, we have a lot of potential in the district, we have a lot of assets, both human and material. I think we're going to get things done."

Gray takes over the council seat vacated by Jon Johnson, who was sentenced in November to six months in prison.

Johnson pleaded guilty in July after diverting FEMA money from a nonprofit organization he controlled to his 2007 state senate campaign.

Like his predecessor, Gray says one of his objectives on the council will be to bring more business to his community.

District E covers the Lower 9th ward, the Desire neighborhood and most of New Orleans East, areas Gray says have been neglected.

"First of all, you get things like the hospital and WalMart, which are coming, because they can serve as an anchor for a neighborhood," he says. "But we have to get small businesses back in. We have to find people who are willing to risk their money, in some cases their life savings and open a business. Then we need to see to it that they make money."

The campaign between Gray, an attorney, and the legislator Badon had its share of mudslinging.

In the end, Gray won with 58% of the vote.

The election results will be certified Tuesday and Gray can be sworn in immediately after that.

Ernest Charbonnet is currently filling the seat as the interim councilman.

Gray says his family suggested some time off before taking office but he's ready to get to work.

"We're gonna start doing things in the district right now," he says. "We're planning a cleanup in the Lower 9 two weeks from yesterday. We started planning that before the election. We new we were going to win so we had to have something to do right away."

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