See the six New Orleans races that are headed to a runoff this December
With Saturday's election producing six races without a clear favorite, voters have less than a month to decide their stances on candidates, including a divisive sheriff's election that could give the city its first female sheriff.
Susan Hutson, an independent police monitor for the past 11 years, received 35% of the vote compared to the incumbent Sheriff Marlin Gusman's 48%. With neither candidate taking 50% of the vote, it leads to a runoff election that will be decided Dec. 11.
While Hutson is running for her first political position, she is well known behind the scenes of New Orleans politics with her advocacy for criminal justice reform. Hutson promises a severe audit of the Sheriff's Office that has been under a federal consent decree since 2013 for the conditions inside his jails.
Critics of her campaign said during the sheriff’s race that she has never served in a law enforcement capacity, but she is championed by progressive PACs and criminal justice reform agencies that boosted her financially in the months leading up to election night.
Gusman has held many titles in city government, including the Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer for Mayor Marc Morial. Gusman also spent four years as a City Council member before being elected to his current role, which he has held for 16 years.
With strong ties to the state’s Democratic Party, Gusman received endorsements from Gov. John Bel Edwards and Congressman Troy Carter.
The main topic of debate for the candidates will be the state of the jails under Gusman. Lawsuits forced the federal level to take over the jails and the NOPD under a consent decree in 2013.
Gusman was granted power back to his jail in 2020, but federal monitors have said the facilities have been regressing since then, noting three inmate deaths, including one overdose, in that time..
He also postponed his duty to propose his 2022 budget for the Sheriff's Office to the City Council until the last budget meeting for council Tuesday. Public commenters in the meeting angrily said that this move was to avoid the public before the election. The council is required to finalize their budget before Dec. 1.
Four seats on the council are also in runoff elections. In District B, the incumbent Jay Banks didn't draw enough of the vote to prevent a runoff with Lesli Harris, an entertainment lawyer. Banks drew 45% of the vote to Harris' 37%.
During a campaign watch party, Banks said the campaign so far has been chiefly attack ads against him from his opponents, and now that it is a runoff, he hopes the campaigns will shift to policy decisions.
In District E, Council member Cyndi Nguyen, who took 41% of the votes, finds herself in a runoff with Oliver Thomas, who took 45% of the vote.
A former council member, Thomas was once considered a "sure-thing" for the next mayor of the city before a federal bribery charge in 2007 ended his political career. He was found guilty of accepting $15,000 from Stan "Pampy" Barre, who owned several French Quarter parking garages and wanted Thomas to renew business contracts with the city.
Thomas served three terms as the representative for District B and two as the At-Large member before his arrest ended his final term.
In District C, Freddie King III, a former Orleans Parish Public Defender, nearly won the election outright but found himself just short of the 50% threshold. King took 44% of the district's vote, and he'll face Stephanie Bridges in the runoff. Bridges, the president of the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice, received 16% of the vote.
Eugene Green, president of Nationwide Real Estate Corporation, only needed 35% of votes to become the leader for the District D seat, but a diverse field of 14 candidates spread the votes out. Green will face Troy Glover in a runoff. Glover, the youngest president in St. Roch Improvement Association history, took 12% of the vote.
The assessor's position is also up for another vote in December, with neither Austin Badon, who is currently the clerk of 1st City Court, and Darren Lombard, the 2nd City Court Clerk, taking more than 50% of the vote.