On the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Barack Obama didn't pay the Gulf Coast a visit in person, but spoke to the whole country about the need to continue focusing federal rebuilding efforts in the city that sank. His words:
Over this week of remembrance, THE ROOT has celebrated New Orleans history and shaken its head at the problems still plaguing the Gulf Coast. Be sure to check out my favorite piece, Eli Ackerman's precis of all the politicians running for Mayor of New Orleans. They may want to help the fixer-upper, but must battle through the tangled politics that threaten to hold the city down for even longer. A sampling:
2. Brad Pitt
Perhaps victims of a clever T-shirt marketing campaign, New Orleanians have put more “Brad Pitt for Mayor” signs in their windows than for any other candidate. Pitt is building more homes in the devastated Lower Ninth Ward than anyone else and can, for some reason, more easily obtain meetings with Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders than the current mayor. He recently told Ann Curry of Today, "I'm running on the gay marriage, no religion, legalization and taxation of marijuana platform. I don't have a chance." Hmm, actually that might play pretty well.
Pros: Did you see that platform?
Cons: Meet Joe Black
4. Austin Badon
One of only three candidates to actually declare their intention to seek the mayor’s office, the young state representative has hired some big guns to get him elected. Nagin’s team of campaign consultants also happens to have managed to pick every mayoral winner for last couple of decades. Now they’re in Badon’s corner, and his political stances against organized labor and for school vouchers indicates that he might be looking to recreate the Nagin’s bizarre and clearly ineffective coalition of African Americans and racist industrial magnates.
Pros: Young, charismatic
Cons: Nagin’s unpopularity rating stands at roughly 80 percent; his electoral coalition wouldn’t appear to be one worth emulating.
5. James Perry
Another officially declared candidate and relative youngster, Perry directs a nonprofit organization that fights housing discrimination. He’s also the only candidate with a functioning campaign headquarters and seems to be going to the mat to win young Obama-inspired voters. His use of online social media also reflects a degree of ingenuity that makes other candidates look like dinosaurs. However, there is no precedent in New Orleans for insurgent progressive candidates. Having never directed a staff of more than a baker’s dozen or so and with little campaign cash on-hand, it seems as though Perry is in for a major uphill climb.
Pros: Progressive policy stands, track record fighting in the non-profit trenches
Cons: Total absence of money, name recognition, experience, mainstream legitimacy
It remains to be seen who makes Obama's NOLA talk a reality. See the whole motley crew here.
Covers the White House and Washington for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.