Almost exactly a year after driving a city-owned SUV through the neutral terrain of Elysian Fields Avenue and into another vehicle while allegedly drunk, New Orleans City Council member Jared Brossett is betting that by October, the city’s voters will forgive and forget.
Brossett announced his entry into the race for a city council seat this week, throwing a wild card in what is expected to be a punitive contest between political heavyweights Sen. JP Morrell and Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer and adding a patina of scandal to the citywide election.
District council members like Brossett are often natural candidates for city-wide general seats, bringing with them name recognition and fundraising benefits. But political observers this week said they were surprised the 38-year-old council member entered the race with the shadow of the crash – and the widely shared video of Brossett stumbling as a result – suspended to his candidacy.
Election season has kicked off in New Orleans, with several prominent city council candidates this week announcing, or confirming t…
Few were willing to speak publicly of a sitting council member who still has close ties to the city and several of its leaders. But privately, the city’s politicians give him a slim chance of winning, given both the scandal and the beatings he suffered three years ago in his last and only race for the city-wide, for the post of clerk of the civil district court.
Still, his entry could force Morrell and Palmer to recalibrate their campaigns and threaten, at a minimum, to force the race to a second round.
Brossett, who has said little about the incident since returning to public life last July, admitted on Friday that it would continue to present a challenge for him as he faced two powerful opponents.
“Look, I’m approaching this topic with my eyes open,” said Brossett. “I recognize that there are people and adversaries who will be like crabs in a barrel hoping to pull me down because they can’t get up. But I believe people believe in rehabilitation.
“I think they want to support the person who falls and wants to be proud again,” he added later.
Motorist hit hard by Councilor Jared Brossett refused EMS treatment
With no sign that Mayor LaToya Cantrell will face a major challenger with political experience, name recognition, or significant resources to burn, the city council race is expected to be the marquee contest on the ballot. ‘autumn.
Observers were already expecting a punitive contest between Morrell and Palmer, both seasoned politicians and activists, to take the seat previously held by Jason Williams, who was elected district attorney last year.
During his two terms on city council, Brossett earned praise from progressives for his efforts to improve the wages of city employees and those who work for city contractors, and for his opposition to short-term rentals. term. He touted his efforts in the Louisiana Legislature to demand equal pay for women. In this race, he said, he would focus on fighting crime, promoting equality and improving infrastructure.
“I have a file in City Council and the Legislature to bring people together and build relationships across the community, listen to people and meet their quality of life needs,” he said. .
Brossett enters this politically injured fray by the crash, which physically injured the driver of the vehicle he struck when his car jumped off neutral ground and collided with oncoming traffic in the wee hours of the morning June 14, 2020.
“Sure, politicians have been involved in scandals, whether they’ve had legal difficulties or extramarital affairs, but it’s a different race,” said Ed Chervenak, a seasoned New Orleans political observer. and director of the Center for Investigative Research at the University of New Orleans. . “He was certainly not fit to drive and not only did he put himself in danger, he put other people in danger as well.”
A neighbor also captured video of the aftermath, showing him tripping over his words as he says he’s “trying to fix the problem.”
A witness to the car crash that landed Councilor Jared Brossett in jail for drinking and driving on Sunday morning said Councilor …
When police arrived, Brossett refused a breathalyzer test but scored poorly on a field field sobriety test. He was held in the Orleans parish prison after being treated for minor injuries and released a few hours later.
In a statement released the next day, Brossett apologized to his family and the citizens of New Orleans and said he was embarking on a treatment program, but has said little about the incident since.
After his accident, Brossett entered an intensive treatment program focused on coping mechanisms, stress management and helping people with a history of trauma, he said on Friday, which he said , was necessary due to domestic violence in her home. The program lasted 30 days, he said, going beyond when he returned to council.
Brossett has since pleaded not guilty to drunk driving charges and has embarked on a diversion program through the district attorney’s office. He also entered into a payment plan to reimburse the city for the cost of the SUV.
He has since continued to receive counseling and volunteered in the program to help others, he said.
When asked if he had had a drink since, Brossett replied, “No, I haven’t.”
“It’s a tough hurdle to jump over, but when you have everything you can do, you can overcome it,” said Brossett.
Of course, criminal charges are not always a political death sentence. Last year, Williams won his race for district attorney even though he was charged with tax evasion. Williams has denied the wrongdoing and called the accusations political.
Meanwhile, Oliver Thomas, who resigned his board seat and was sentenced to 37 months in prison after pleading guilty to accepting a $ 20,000 bribe in 2007, is trying to bounce back. Three weeks ago, Thomas said he plans to challenge board member Cyndi Nguyen for the seat representing East New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward.
Former city councilor Oliver Thomas, the popular New Orleans politician widely regarded as a future mayor before a corruption scandal ended his politics …
Brossett’s issues may be more difficult to overcome due to the date the incident happened and the inability to deny what is clear on the video.
“You can see for yourself that he was not fit to drive,” Chervenak said.
Brossett entered the New Orleans political scene as an intern for then-board member Marlin Gusman, now sheriff of Orleans Parish, before rising through the ranks in his successor’s office, Cynthia Hedge Morrell. With the backing of Hedge Morrell, he launched his own career at State House and retained the strong support of establishment figures through two parliamentary elections and two successful nominations for the D District Council seat.
He flirted with the idea of running for headquarters in 2017. Instead, he opted for another term in his district of Gentilly – in which he beat his opposition with 80% of the vote – and then a race. for Registrar of the Civil District Court one year later.
He lost in that race to Chelsea Napoleon Richard, the former second in command of former clerk Dale Atkin, winning just 46% of the vote. The loss had previously raised questions about whether he could win a city-wide job, even before his accident.
And this time, he’ll be running without some of his traditional supporters.
Hedge Morrell’s support will go to JP Morrell, his son. And Brossett said this week that he has yet to ask for the blessing of LIFE, the political organization that has risen to prominence with former mayor Dutch Morial with which he and Gusman are both aligned.
“I didn’t tell them about an endorsement. The endorsements that matter to me are the voters of this city, ”said Brossett.
Eight months after crashing his city-supplied SUV into another allegedly intoxicated vehicle, Councilor Jared Brossett apologized …
Perhaps the strongest indicator in Brossett’s favor is its funding, although it remains to be seen if this will hold up as the race resumes.
Brossett started this year with over $ 100,000 in his campaign account, a seemingly enviable war chest that eclipsed that of any other board member in place at the time. But the report also highlights a potential vulnerability: less than $ 10,000 from transportation was collected last year and nothing happened after the crash.
Racing in general requires a lot more than what Brossett has on hand. Williams spent more than four times that amount to oust Hedge Morrell in 2013, and Palmer is already catching up, raising $ 85,000 in the first four months of this year.
Due to the timing of their campaign announcements, neither Brossett nor Morrell will have to file their first financial reports this year by mid-July.
So far, Brossett’s opponents are lightly advancing his candidacy.
Palmer responded to questions about her entry, saying she had welcomed him to the race and “looked forward to talking about our different visions for fighting crime and rebuilding after COVID.”
Morrell declined to comment.
For his part, Brossett said he was not going to focus on what happened last year.
“I’m not going to dwell on the past. I will seek to see a better future through the initiatives that I ask voters to consider, ”he said.