Jay Banks says he is running for reelection to continue the work he started almost four years ago.
“I have a record for standing up for people, and logical common-sense solutions to problems,” says Banks. “One of the reasons that I ran is that we have a totally archaic taxing structure. What I tried to do was get the (tax assessments) frozen at the pre-Katrina taxing rate, and then assessed after that. Now we weren’t successful in getting all of that done, but we were successful in getting Rep. (Matthew) Willard to get a 10 percent cap done. I’m very excited about that because now no one is going to get a totally outrageous skyrocketing bill. I’m proud of that, but by no means am I finished.”
If reelected, Banks says he wants to continue work to create more affordable housing throughout New Orleans as well.
“Affordable housing is one of the central issues (impacting) the success of this city,” says Banks. “Our economy is based on our culture. Our culture is generated by our people. And if our people can’t live here, then what is going to happen? If our working families can’t live throughout this city in houses and neighborhoods that they’ve lived in for generations . . . our entire economy is going to collapse.”
Banks points to the inclusionary zoning laws that the city council passed that requires that any developer that comes in to offer affordable units.
“Now I understand that there is a misconception when people start talking about affordable housing. All of a sudden, it’s based on one race or a financial demographic. The truth is affordable housing is for working families — police officers, teachers, postal workers and essential workers. No one thought, before this storm, that sanitation workers would be considered essential workers; but they are. And they have to be able to live here. We have a housing structure that doesn’t allow people to be able to live here.”
When it comes to fighting crime in New Orleans, Banks says it’s time to address the root causes of the problem.
“We have to stop creating criminals. If we put people in a position where they think, ‘I ain’t got nothing to lose,’ then that’s a bad place to be in. I’m told that this solution will take 20 years; and if that’s true, what would have happened if we started 20 years ago? It costs $30,000 a year to incarcerate someone. That’s enough to send a kid to college at almost any university in this state. Think about if we had an educated work force that could sustain itself. Instead of spending that money on prisons we could spend it on education. This is not rocket science.”
Attorney Lesli Harris says she is ready to be the change that she wants to see across her community.
“I am running because my neighbors that live in Central City live in front of a street that has been torn up for literally a year. Their house has been covered in dust. This is a person that has lived here their entire life and they are ready to move.”
Harris says that as an attorney she has represented the interests of the city’s culture bearers.
“I believe with the legal background that I have and my passion for New Orleans, I am uniquely qualified to run for council.”
She says she will advocate for common sense approaches to the issues that plague New Orleans.
“I think we need to get back to basics. We need infrastructure. We need roads that work and drinkable water. We have to get crime under control. If we want to attract people from Nashville, we have to have roads and infrastructure that is better than Nashville. I think we need to make it easier for small businesses in the city. I’ve heard horror stories of how people went up and down the elevators at City Hall trying to get paperwork done in order to set up their business.”
If elected, Harris says she wants to look into ways to expand programs that helps homeowners keep their property in a good condition.
“Affordable housing is huge. I live in Central City where there are blighted homes and empty lots. I talk to homeowners whose homes are falling into blight because they can’t afford to make the necessary repairs. They can’t afford it. We need to expand the home owner’s assistance program so that these people can afford to make these critical repairs. The city also has a lot of blighted properties. We should target those lands to create development. We should encourage those private-public partnerships to develop housing.”