Joe Jackson says he thinks it is time for citizen-servants and not career politicians to serve on the New Orleans City Council, adding that his first-ever bid for public office is driven by a sense of civic responsibility.
“I am one of those people who woke up on Nov. 9 or 10—after that orange dude go elected—and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I got to do something. What is it? And I landed on City Council after talking to my neighbors in District D and (hoping) to discover some political advocacy groups that could teach me something about how I can contribute moving forward beyond this election. I am not a politician. And that is what separates me is—that I am not a politician. I think I am a quick study. I am passionate, progressive, a good communicator and a consensus builder. I am coming into this with the notion that maybe the City Council shouldn’t be full of politicians.”
Jackson, who works as the assistant director of Rentals & Hospitality for the Contemporary Arts Center, says he has become particularly interested in criminal justice reform over the course of the campaign.
“Two things, I think we have to stop incarcerating so many young people,” says Jackson. “I think about what I could do if I were elected—the low hanging fruit. What can I actually get done? We could ban the box. When you apply for employment after you have served your time for a crime you shouldn’t be paying for that crime continuously; otherwise, you’re going to have to revert to crime.
Jackson also favors improved vetting, training and pay for police officers, but he is not sold on the idea that New Orleans needs more officers.
“You have to vet your police,” he says. “You have to spend more time on it. You have to do psychological testing and emotional testing. I don’t think we need more police. Let’s get the right one. Let’s train them better. And then we have to pay them better.”
If elected, Jackson says he would advocate for more accountability and transparency in infrastructure spending. He also says he would advocate for a living wage for working-class New Orleanians.
“I know from working in (the hospitality/tourism) industry for 20 years how much money is generated. I mean everyone knows. It’s not a secret,” says Jackson. “I can tell you I have done budgets where your end client is getting charged $65 an hour for that person pouring water. So why is that person pouring water getting $8 or $10 or $12 an hour? I try to do better by paying $20, $25 for everybody that works with me. But systematically what can we do? We sit down with NOCVB and all the major destination management companies. How do we incentivize them, maybe it’s with tax breaks, to managerial training for their folks so that we can create more middle-class jobs and to also pay the folks—the bussers, the bartenders, the bar backs—we ‘re always going to need them. So we got to pay them a living wage. It’s got be at least $15 an hour.”