Don’t worry, I already expect racism accusations in response to this post, but it’s something I feel needs to be put out there before any decision is made by the New Orleans City Council.
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about changing the way we elect Councilmembers At-Large. Currently, all candidates run together on one slate and the top two vote getters receiving over 25% of votes are elected. Apparently, a number of elected officials have a problem with this. Their stated reasoning is that those elected are not chosen by a 50%+ majority, and therefore do not “represent” the majority. Their solution is to have two separate seats on the ballot so winners have a clear majority.
I do not believe their stated reasoning is the truth, unfortunately. Based on the comments centered around the council runoff between Stacy Head and Cynthia Willard-Lewis, I fully believe what’s actually going on is a way to underhandedly assure that one at-large seat is held by a white person and one seat is held by a black person. Of course no one could ever publicly state that that is what’s happening, but why wouldn’t it be? Members of the black New Orleans political class continually insist that race is the reason for every perceived slight.
How else could you interpret comments like Willard-Lewis saying in reference to all portions of the community feeling “they have access and that their voices will be welcome, respected and heard?” Or even more blatant, New Orleans native and former mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young, stating “If you don’t have somebody representing you in public office, you really don’t get your share.” Translation; white people only represent other white people.
As a white person, I find these comments to be completely offensive. Also, Willard-Lewis and Young are being incredibly irresponsible. Instead of using their positions of influence to try and help remove economic, societal, and governmental barriers they prefer to hold their community back. Real opportunity and achievement is colorblind and until they stop viewing the world through a racial lens they will only fall further out of touch with the New Orleans of 2012 and beyond.