Progressive groups framing the election discussion at forums

If you’re interested in the citywide elections in New Orleans, now is the time to pay attention and attend a forum or town hall. By the time the televised debates begin, much of the agenda will be set — but already community groups are framing the discussion. Many of them are new progressive groups that sprang up during the 2016 presidential election.

Indivisible New Orleans, one of the groups, held the first New Orleans mayoral town hall three weeks before qualifying began. Earlier this week, a coalition of progressive organizations sponsored a “Town Hall for Better Jobs.” More than 20 candidates for mayor and City Council attended. Among the topics: raising the minimum wage, expanding job opportunities, and supporting unions and collective bargaining — ideas that are at the top of the progressive agenda. Those ideas are a far cry from forums at which candidates typically try to outdo each other with “tough on crime” rhetoric or decry the city’s pothole problems. 

In contrast to the last three citywide elections, the backdrop for this political season is not the post-Hurricane Katrina recovery, but rather new challenges posed by that recovery. A study this month found that New Orleans is among the Top 10 cities in the country where the cost of living has spiked, from rent to utilities to transportation. Another study found that a wage earner in Orleans Parish now needs to make $62,000 to live comfortably in a city where the average salary is $37,000. What good is a recovery that excludes longtime working residents who no longer can afford to live in New Orleans?

Read the whole story on Gambit.

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