Oliver Thomas: If I run I’m asking people for a second chance

Former councilman Oliver Thomas considering entering the city council race
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Former New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas has taken steps toward a potential run for the District E council seat. Thomas left the council years ago after admitting he committed a federal crime but says if he decides to enter the race, he will be asking voters to give him a second chance.

“There’s an exploratory committee, people are looking at the polling, meeting with a lot of community groups in the east, the lower 9th Ward and what’s considered District E,” said Thomas.

District E includes New Orleans East and parts of the 9th ward.

Thomas was asked if he is more likely to run for the council seat than not.

“You know, I mean those types of hypotheticals either I’m, you know, when the time is right we’ll either officially declare or we will say, you know, because of family, friends, and conversations, and either lack of support, or the fact that you know, you know, for me it’s real, you know, that maybe people will support me or maybe they won’t,” said Thomas.

In 2007, Thomas pleaded guilty to taking nearly $20,000 in bribes from a businessman who was seeking to keep a parking lot contract. He was released from federal prison in 2010 and is the host of the “The Good Morning Show” on radio station WBOK and Thomas said he is also development director at Stuart Consulting.

“You know if I run I’m asking people for a second chance, I’m asking to be able to use my experience to work to improve and build and rebuild what I think is, first of all, it’s the largest African American municipal district in this region and one of the few places our city can grow,” said Thomas.

Thomas also was asked how big of an issue he expects his guilty plea to be should he enter the race.

“Well, you know I’m going to do everything I can to show people that I really want their support, that they can trust me, that I will do everything I can to be the best representative and council member they’ve had if I decide to run but I can’t control that,” said Thomas.

Mike Sherman is FOX 8′s political analyst.

“We have seen it done in other cities, the name Marion Barry always comes to mind from Washington D.C.,” said Sherman.

Sherman believes there are varying views on whether Thomas should be allowed to return to political office.

“The councilman certainly has a loyal group of supporters eager to give him redemption and see him resume his public life, I think there are going to be others who think he directly violated the public trust by accepting a bribe that he pled guilty to and are not willing to see him back on the council,” he said.

Current District E Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen told FOX 8 through a spokesperson that she is definitely seeking re-election, but she was not available for further comment for this story.

Former State Representative John Bagneris has announced he will be a candidate and has a campaign page on social media. Longtime 9th Ward community activist Vanessa Gueringer has also announced her candidacy and has a related Facebook page.

Sherman said it is a race to watch.

“These are all well-known names in District “E” but to have a former councilmember-at-large who was considering a run for mayor as a top contender in the race would certainly make him the most high-profile of the challengers and a very formidable candidate,” said Sherman.

Thomas was viewed as a popular politician before his legal troubles.

Thomas would not be the first former Louisiana politician to run for elective office after completing a prison term. Ex-Governor Edwin Edwards did so.

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