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State Rep. Joe Bouie says his record of fighting on behalf of the people of New Orleans make him the ideal candidate for the Division 1 at-large City Council seat. He has represented the 97th District in the state House since his election in 2014.

Chair of the state legislative Black Caucus, Bouie authored a bill to push for the return of local schools to the Orleans Parish School Board, as well as one that would have prohibited the construction of schools on former toxic waste dump sites. He is also known for his many years of work as an educator and administrator at Southern University at New Orleans.

Bouie says he is running for the Division 1 at-large seat because there has been a “dearth of leadership.”

“I am a professional change agent and I am a community problem solver,” Bouie says.

The issues that Bouie says need immediate attention are the city’s crumbling infrastructure, crime, affordable housing and blight, economic inequality and substance abuse and addiction. He will promote an evidence-based solutions approach to addressing the issues, he says.

When it comes to affordable housing, Bouie says city officials did not keep “their promise to make sure former residents weren’t driven out of the city” by high property taxes and prohibitive rental rates. In addition to pushing forward with a plan to provide 7,500 new or rehabilitated affordable housing units by 2021, Bouie says public transportation must be enhanced so that residents throughout the city receive reliable, 24-hour service.

Bouie also wants to reduce crime in the city by 50 percent by 2022. Accomplishing that goal will only happen when resources are focused on both fighting crime and its root causes.

“We must understand that criminal behavior is the result of other dysfunctional community systems (low wages, unemployment, etc.),” Bouie says. “We have not reduced or eliminated criminal behavior because our solutions are responses to symptoms and not causes. We must address both. Public policies that aim to correct structural unemployment have a positive effect on income levels and economic growth. Decreasing unemployment is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty and crime.”

Bouie says. “We have not reduced or eliminated criminal behavior because our solutions are responses to symptoms and not causes. We must address both. Public policies that aim to correct structural unemployment have a positive effect on income levels and economic growth. Decreasing unemployment is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty and crime.”

Decreasing unemployment is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty and crime.”

On infrastructure, Bouie contends that “flooded streets, sinkholes, man-sized potholes, broken water mains, and less than adequate drainage are becoming the norm rather than the exception.”

In addition to ensuring adequate funding is budgeted and used appropriately to address the varied infrastructure issues, Bouie says he is in favor of revisiting the current structure of the Sewerage & Water Board by reinstating members of the City Council.

In the area of economic equity, one of Bouie’s goals is to reduce unemployment among African-American males, which stands at 44 percent to 25 percent by 2021. To facilitate that effort, Bouie would like to institute a priority hiring ordinance with the $26 million recently approved by the City Council after the Aug. 5 flood incident for drainage work and repairs. A priority hiring ordinance would mandate that a certain percentage of work involving the expenditure of these funds be performed by workers living in economically distressed areas. He also encourages “job-specific training for emerging and growth industries especially for residents with barriers to employment, creating pipelines for employment.”

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