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Former Council member Oliver Thomas, Lesli Harris win City Council seats; see election results

New Orleans City Hall
Jesse Hardman
New Orleans City Hall

After several City Council races in November were too close to call, the runoff results of Saturday's elections will bring a few new faces to the Council next year.

Oliver Thomas will return to the City Council, beating the one-term incumbent Cyndi Nguyen.

Reports show Thomas with 57% of the vote and all but one precinct reporting as of 11 p.m.

Thomas, who served on the Council from 1994 to 2007, was once considered a "sure-thing" for the city's next mayor before a federal bribery charge in 2007 brought his New Orleans political career to a pause. 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.

Despite the scandals surrounding Thomas, he drew an endorsement from Council President Helena Moreno, who spent her first term in the City Council working alongside Thomas.

"Oliver has paid the price for his mistakes and built himself as a community advocate," Moreno said in an endorsement video. "I know Oliver, I know his character and I know he will be an essential partner in the next City Council."

Prior to the election, Thomas hosted a morning radio show on WBOK-AM and has held the role of a marketing executive at Stuart Consulting Group since 2016.

Thomas' campaign addressed the district's high crime rate and illegal dumping as priorities when he starts in his role.

Lesli Harris has defeated the incumbent Jay Banks after taking 57% of District B's vote.

In the weeks leading up to the runoff election, the race heated up as the candidates publicly sparred. Banks pointed to Harris' campaign donations from club owners when claiming that she wants to turn Magazine Street, one of the main thoroughfares that runs through District B, into another Bourbon Street.

Harris fought back, claiming that Banks was generally unresponsive in his role as a City Council member. Both candidates have garnered support from key Democrats across the state.

City Council President Helena Moreno and U.S. Rep. Troy Carter endorsed Harris over the incumbent Banks, while he received endorsements from Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Banks is well connected in the city; he's on the board of directors for Zulu and a board member for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. He has also served as the chief of staff for former City Council members Dorothy Mae Taylor and James Singleton.

Harris, an entertainment lawyer, attempted to discredit Banks during the primary by distributing fliers that said his former job as a lobbyist for Entergy prevented him from performing a key role for the Council in upcoming years by regulating the city's energy company.

Harris' former jobs include representing the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans as well as Chief of Staff for Loyola University. She loaned her campaign $28,700 of her own personal money.

Freddie King III, a former Orleans Parish Public Defender, will become the new District C City Council member after taking 62% of the vote as of 11 p.m.

King defeats Stephanie Bridges, who is also a former city attorney.

King nearly took District C in the primary election but fell 6% short of the 50% threshold. King gained endorsements from seemingly every Democratic politician in Louisiana, including Gov. John Bel Edwards. King runs a law firm in Algiers.

King will replace Kristin Gisleson Palmer who chose to run for the second At-Large position on the City Council, instead of running for another term in District C. Palmer lost in the primary to JP Morrell.

Eugene Green, president of Nationwide Real Estate Corporation, won the race for District D with reports showing he got 60 more votes than his challenger, Troy Glover, a former president of the St. Roch Neighborhood Improvement Association, as of 10:25 p.m.

Green served as the head of economic development for former Mayor Marc Morial and has campaigned for various offices before without ever having success. Green, who is considered more moderate than the progressive candidates he faced in the primary, was endorsed by the Times-Picayune, the Alliance of Good Government and the New Orleans Coalition.

Green received 35% of the primary vote, competing in a diverse field of 14 candidates who spread the vote out.

The new clerk for the Criminal District Court will be Darren Lombard, with reports showing he captured 56% of the vote with all but one precinct reporting as of 11 p.m.

Lombard served as the 2nd City Court clerk for the West Bank. His opponent, Badon, served one term as the 1st City Court clerk, keeping records for evictions and small claims on the East Bank.

Badon led during the primary election, taking 43% of the vote to Lombard's 30%.

The post is being vacated by Arthur Morrell, who has served in the position since 2006.

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